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By November 15, 2008 745 Comments Read More →

A ‘female’-type psychopathy?

We know only too well that by far the majority of psychopaths are men. Or at least we think we know that. Could it be that the criteria used to identify psychopaths are biased towards men? After all Hare began his work in male prison.

Think about it. While behaving and being the way the PCL-R without doubt earns one the label psychopath, this is simply a list of symptoms. It says nothing about the underlying dynamics. If psychopathy is life centered on the principle of power (as opposed to love) and if it is therefore characterised by what Liane Leedom nicely calls ‘warped empathy‘, then wouldn’t you expect there to be more or less the same number of woman as men psychopaths? And wouldn’t you expect them to come across differently?

I am beginning to wonder whether there may be two broad types of psychopathy – a ‘male’-type and a ‘female’-type. I place these in quotes because, when I think about it, men with might be thought of as ‘female’ psychopathy come to mind and we all know about women with ‘male’ psychopathy. And yet, at the risk of being un-PC, I want to maintain these descriptors for now so that the difference I think I see doesn’t disappear.

A ‘female’ psychopath would not necessarily commit crimianl/antisocial acts like her male counterpart, but she woud be as power-driven, as toxically narcissistic as a ‘male’ psychopath. The control, the manipulation, the dishonesty, the selfishness, the callousness – all these would be present, but we might not recognise them for what they are because of 1. media portrayal and 2. medical diagnosis of psychopaths. The difference would come in the gendered style of their behaviour.

In my clinical work I have come across this phenomenon. For example, a woman I now consider to be of the ‘female’-type of psychopath didn’t come close to committing a crime and yet the way she mothered her daughter, my patient, came close to destroying the child’s mind. This seems to me to be a perversion of motherhood eqivalent to the perversion of fatherhood we read about on this website.

Do readers have any comments? I’m particularly interested in any examples you might have of how ‘female’ psychopathy – if such a thing does exist – manifests itself?



745 Comments on "A ‘female’-type psychopathy?"

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  1. Fraudorfriend says:

    Jan7,
    I read about triangulation and that is exactly what she is doing. I don’t know how people like her can use so many people and sleep well at night. I would feel terrible if is were using people just so I could feel desired and in control. My “friend” has not been single for even one day in the past twenty years. She just uses someone then moves on to the next without ending the relationship. It really is a sickness. But she loves to say that she just wants what God wants. I know that God doesn’t want people to use other people just so you can feel good about yourself. I am sorry you had to go through something similar. It really is amazing how many sick people there are. I guess the good thing for me is that she did this before we were married. I really hope I am able to go cold turkey very soon. I am very tired of letting her control me. Thank you for your support.



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  2. Synergy says:

    The state of Massachusetts, USA,has two anti-bullying bills before the legislature. Here’s a quote out of an article in masslive (dot) com /politics/index.ssf/2015/07/bills_address_bullying_public.html

    “[Jerry] Halberstadt is an advocate for a bill that would create a committee to develop strategies to stop the bullying of disabled and elderly residents in subsidized housing. He and others testified Tuesday before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing.

    Bonny Zeh, a disabled resident of a Somerville public housing apartment since 2008, told the legislative committee about enduring years of abuse at the hands of other residents – including threats, catcalls, obscene gestures and cruel jokes.

    “For five years, I was… subject to a near daily dose of verbal abuse and bullying by six to 10 mostly elderly residents,” Zeh said.

    I, member of forum, Synergy say: I’m on Jerry Halberstadt’s email list, and am keeping up with his great advocacy and progress in Massachusetts.

    I live in a market-rate, realty company owned, apt. building for seniors. In my building, there are a lot of female bullies. five or six woman, and one man, sit in our community room all morning every day, drinking coffee, running down various tenants AND staff people who work for the company, using ugly and degrading nicknames they make up, and spreading vicious rumors about people. I’m hoping that Mass.’s bills become law there, and that their laws, being the first in the nation, will serve as impetus for other states.

    In a building where a very good friend of mine used to live before she escaped to a better building, there were femail and male bullies. The females had underhanded ways of bullying, and the man there stood very close to my friend in the elevator and came on to her sexually. The landlord company — from whom I at one time rented part of a 4-plex from, does nothing to protect tenants from bullies, whether the bullies are other tenants, or managers against tenants. Of course, there can also be staff-to-staff member bullies, manager-to-staff, and tenant/s to staff.

    I continue to advocate anti-bullying legislative action, with the tenant organization I am a member of, but so far, they are doing nothing about this.



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  3. Synergy says:

    Hi Donna,

    Well, ha ha and ho ho! Did anyone suspect that the middle school bullies (female or male) would “grow out of it”? They just get more and more skillful, effective, and devious tactics.



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