Chronically antisocial individuals are always in trouble, profiting neither from experience nor punishment, and maintaining no real loyalties to any person, group, or code. They are frequently callous and hedonistic, showing marked emotional immaturity, lacking a sense of responsibility, lacking judgement, and having an ability to rationalize their behaviour so that it appears warranted, reasonable, and justified. They are distinguished from individuals who manifest disregard for the usual social codes, and often come in conflict with them, as the result of having lived all their lives in an abnormal moral environment. These latter individuals may be capable of strong loyalties and typically do not show significant personality deviations other than those implied by adherence to the value or code of their own predatory, criminal or other social group.
Psychopathy is a mental disorder not necessarily amounting to insanity, characterized by antisocial behaviour, often leading to acts of aggression and violence. The victim, known as a psychopath, is to be distinguished from the psychotic, who is commonly treated as insane. Psychopathy as a mental illness falls into a class of its own, and currently receives much attention from psychologists and behavioural scientists the world over. It is largely a phenomenon of our times. Often the intelligence of the psychopath is above average. Callous and selfish, he lacks the emotional qualities that make for normal interpersonal relationships such as altruism, affection, empathy, concern for others. But he may show a fanatical attachment to one person, animal or object. The principal characteristics of the psychopath are social insensitivity and this lack of feelings. He is a sociopath, opposed to society in general, undisciplined and antisocial in his behaviour, and apparently devoid of conscience. He has little sense of duty or responsibility, and may be aggressive and violent. Varying degrees of psychopathy are to be seen in the road-hog, the bully, the mob-orator, the wife-beater, the baby-basher, the football hooligan, the vandal, the terrorist, the hi-jacker, the psychopathic killer. Psychopaths form the greater proportion of the population of remand institutions and prisons; because his moral sense is so far below normal, the psychopath's condition has been described as one of moral insanity, or moral imbecility.
The DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for antisocial personality disorder include: (1) A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since the age of 15 years as indicated by at least three of: (i) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest; (ii) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; (iii) impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead; (iv) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults; (v) reckless disregard for the safety of self or others; (vi) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behaviour or honour financial obligations; (vii) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalising having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another. (2) The individual is at least 18 years of age. (3) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years. (4) The occurrence of antisocial behaviour is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.