WHY WE ARE OFTEN WRONG TALKING ABOUT PSYCHOPATHY

K. UZIEBLO & W. SMID

Psychopaths are often mystified and made out as evil monsters. Many believe that these individuals should be imprisoned for life, no matter what they’ve done, just because they are psychopaths. These attitudes towards and interest in psychopathy are however mainly driven by over-simplified and often faulty misconceptions of the personality construct. Is it true that all psychopathic individuals are dangerous criminals who will continue offending no matter what? Do psychopathic individuals become more dangerous because of treatment? And are all our bosses psychopathic? With this article we aim to challenge several assumptions about psychopathy that we often encounter in media and practice, by tackling these questions with research-informed responses. We will also provide practitioners working in both forensic- and non-forensic settings, with adults or minors, insights in important issues related to the assessment of psychopathic traits and the treatment of individuals with psychopathic traits.


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Zijn alle psychopaten hetzelfde? Komt psychopathie alleen bij criminelen voor? Zijn ze te behandelen? Zijn er bij kinderen psychopathische trekken vast te stellen? Kunnen personen met psychopathische trekken in het bedrijfsleven succesvol zijn? Kasia Uzieblo en Wineke Smid buigen zich over enkele veronderstellingen over psychopathie die zowel leven onder leken als professionals. ‘De assumptie dat “psychopaten” onbehandelbaar en dus “hopeloos” zijn, moeten we toch stilaan achterwege laten.’

‘Hij pakt je in, vreet je op en gooit je weg … Mijn broer is een psychopaat en een seriemoordenaar,’ zei Astrid Holleeder over haar broer tijdens het Vandros-strafproces. Willem Holleeder werd op 4 juli 2019 veroordeeld voor vijf moorden, een doodslag en een poging tot moord. Tijdens een van haar verklaringen stelt Astrid Holledeer dat ze geen hoop op verbetering heeft: ‘Ik heb geen wraakgevoelens – hij is ziek. Hij kan niet anders. Hij is zo. Het enige wat helpt zijn vier muren’ (Thijssen & Stoker, 2019). De discussie of Willem Holleeder al dan niet een ‘psychopaat’ is, laten we graag aan anderen over. Wat ons hier meer intrigeert is de veronderstelling van Astrid Holleeder dat personen met psychopathische trekken onbehandelbaar/onveranderbaar zijn.

In dit artikel buigen wij ons over enkele veronderstellingen over psychopathie die we in de media maar ook bij professionals regelmatig tegenkomen. Is het juist om aan te nemen dat iedere ‘psychopaat’ hetzelfde is? Komt psychopathie enkel bij criminelen voor? Brengen

Geïnteresseerden kunnen bij de auteurs een uitgebreidere referentielijst opvragen.

1. Voor de nieuwsgierigen: Theodore Roosevelt behaalde de hoogste score op Fearless-Dominance, terwijl William H. Thaft de laagste score behaalde (Lilienfeld et al., 2012).

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