Free Will in Psychopaths: A Phenomenological Description

  • Manuel Riobó González
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 31)


By the term psychopathy I wish to denote only disorders of personality and behavior; and I shall sometimes emphasize this by using the rather unfashionable expression personality psychopathy. Psychopathy will thus be understood as a condition clearly distinct from other illnesses of the human psyche, such as neurosis and psychosis, and from deficiencies such as mental oligophrenia (retardation); and instead it will be viewed as a kind of personality deficiency, such that the sufferer’s volitional activity is more deteriorated than in neurotics. The latter are prey to remorse and anxiety, whereas the psychopath exhibits neither remorse nor anxiety, but rather a certain coarseness of affection and feeling which is accentuated by an abnormal aggressiveness the etiology of which is to be sought in defective or deficient childhood experiences. In the same way that oligophrenias of a mental kind are defined for the psychopathological classification of the mentally deficient, so too there may be distinguished a kind of moral oligophrenia suffered by certain psychopathic personalities whose deficiency of moral feeling is exhibited in emotional imbalance and lack of social adaptation (sociopathy). These symptoms involve not only the degradation of the psychopath’s moral judgment, but also his ability for free choice in the framework of our customary norms of conduct; in other words, the deterioration of his ideoaffectivity affects his free will.


Phenomenological Description Social Adaptation True Choice Moral Feeling Passive Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Lawrence M. Brammer and Everett L. Shostrom, Therapeutic Psychology. Published in Spanish as Psicología terapéutica ( Mexico City: Herrero Hermanos, 1961 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. G. Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen (1800), in Sämtliche Werke, II (Berlin: Walter de gruyter, 1971), p. 256; or in Gesamtausgabe I.6 (Stuttgart, Bad-Cannstatt: Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1964 et seq.), p. 259. In what follows, the Sämtliche Werke will be denoted by S. W. and the Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften’s edition by Akad-Ausg.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lawrence M. Brammer and Everett L. Shostrom, op. cit., p. 77.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Th. Ribot: La herencia psicológica, Madrid, 1928. ( Traducción castellana).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    C. Rogers, Psychotherapy and Personality Change (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1954). The quotation is back-translated from the Spanish edition Psicoterapia y relaciones humanas (Barcelona: 1967 ).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    J. G. Fichte, Wissenschaftslehre novo methodo (1798), in Akad-Ausg., op. cit., IV, 2, p. 49. This quotation is fundamental for refuting the familiar psychological fallacy of a soulless psychology in which Man is but a puppet in the hands of instincts, heredity, and environment.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Igor A. Caruso, Bios, Psyche, Person: Eine Einführung in die allgemeine Tiefenpsychologie (Freiburg-München: Verlag Karl Alber, 1957). Quoted from the Spanish edition, Bios Psique Persona ( Madrid: Edit. Gredos, 1964 ), p. 254.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Karl Marx, Das Kapital, I (Madrid: E.DA.F., 1967 ), p. 198.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Sidney Hook, Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx (Gollancz, 1833), p. 78.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Gemelli-Zunini: Introducción a la psicología ( Barcelona: Edit. Miracle, 1955 ), p. 331.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    R. Gonzalez Pinto, “Test de Szondi,” in Surgam, Vitoria, 1957.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Saint Augustine: Confessions, VIH, 11.26 and 12.28–9 ( Madrid: Ed. B.A.C., 1974 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Riobó González
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Santiago de CompostelaSpain

Personalised recommendations