Hare Psychopathy Checklist



Hare Psychopathy Checklist 781
Photo by: Klaus Eppele

Definition

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool used to rate a person's psychopathic or antisocial tendencies. People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get with they want. The symptoms of psychopathy include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others.

Originally designed to assess people accused or convicted of crimes, the PCL-R consists of a 20-item symptom rating scale that allows qualified examiners to compare a subject's degree of psychopathy with that of a prototypical psychopath. It is accepted by many in the field as the best method for determining the presence and extent of psychopathy in a person.

The Hare checklist is still used to diagnose members of the original population for which it was developed— adult males in prisons, criminal psychiatric hospitals, and awaiting psychiatric evaluations or trial in other correctional and detention facilities. Recent experience suggests that the PCL-R may also be used effectively to diagnose sex offenders as well as female and adolescent offenders.

Purpose

The PCL-R is used for diagnosing psychopathy in individuals for clinical, legal or research purposes. Developed in the early 1990s, the test was originally designed to identify the degree of a person's psychopathic tendencies. Because psychopaths, however, are often repeat offenders who commit sexual assaults or other violent crimes again and again, the PCL-R is now finding use in the courtroom and in institutions as an indicator of the potential risk posed by subjects or prisoners. The results of the examination have been used in forensic settings as a factor in deciding the length and type of prison sentences and the treatment subjects should or should not receive.

Precautions

Obviously, diagnosing someone as a psychopath is a very serious step. It has important implications for a person and for his or her associates in family, clinical and forensic settings. Therefore, the test must be administered by professionals who have been specifically trained in its use and who have a wide-ranging and up-to-date familiarity with studies of psychopathy.

Professionals who administer the diagnostic examination should have advanced degrees (M.D., Ph.D., or D.Ed.) in a medical, behavioral or social science field; and registered with a reputable organization that oversees psychiatric or psychological testing and diagnostic procedures. Other recommendations include experience working with convicted or accused criminals or several years of some other related on-the-job training. Because the results are used so often in legal cases, those who administer it should be qualified to serve as expert witnesses in the courtroom. It is also a good idea, if possible, for two experts to test a subject independently with the PCL-R. The final rating would then be determined by averaging their scores.

Many studies conducted in North America and Europe attest to the value of the PCL-R for evaluating a person's degree of psychopathic traits and, in many cases, for predicting the likelihood of future violent behavior. Some critics, however, are more skeptical about its value.

Description

The Hare PCL-R contains two parts, a semi-structured interview and a review of the subject's file records and history. During the evaluation, the clinician scores 20 items that measure central elements of the psychopathic character. The items cover the nature of the subject's interpersonal relationships; his or her affective or emotional involvement; responses to other people and to situations; evidence of social deviance; and lifestyle. The material thus covers two key aspects that help define the psychopath: selfish and unfeeling victimization of other people, and an unstable and antisocial lifestyle.

The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:

  • glib and superficial charm
  • grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • poor behavioral controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • early behavior problems
  • lack of realistic long-term goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • revocation of conditional release
  • criminal versatility

The interview portion of the evaluation covers the subject's background, including such items as work and educational history; marital and family status; and criminal background. Because psychopaths lie frequently and easily, the information they provide must be confirmed by a review of the documents in the subject's case history.

Results

When properly completed by a qualified professional, the PCL-R provides a total score that indicates how closely the test subject matches the "perfect" score that a classic or prototypical psychopath would rate. Each of the twenty items is given a score of 0, 1, or 2 based on how well it applies to the subject being tested. A prototypical psychopath would receive a maximum score of 40, while someone with absolutely no psychopathic traits or tendencies would receive a score of zero. A score of 30 or above qualifies a person for a diagnosis of psychopathy. People with no criminal backgrounds normally score around 5. Many non-psychopathic criminal offenders score around 22.

See also Antisocial personality disorder ; Sexual sadism

Resources

BOOKS

Black, Donald W., and C. Lindon Larson. Bad Boys, Bad Men, Confronting Antisocial Personality Disorder. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Hare, Robert D. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 1993.

PERIODICALS

Freedman, M. David. "False prediction of future dangerousness: Error rates and Psychopathy Checklist-Revised." Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law 29, no. 1 (March, 2001): 89-95.

Grann, M., N. Langström, A. Tengström and G. Kullgren. "Psychopathy (PCL-R) predicts violent recidivism among criminal offenders with personality disorders in Sweden." Law and Human Behavior 23, no. 2 (April, 1999): 205-217.

OTHER

Hare, Robert D. Dr. Robert Hare's Page for the Study of Psychopaths. January 29, 2002 (cited April 5, 2002.) <http://www.hare.org/> .

Dean Haycock, Ph.D.



User Contributions:

Geri
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 31, 2007 @ 3:15 pm
What is the most effective way to deal with a psychopath? I have custody of my grand daughter, and her mother is a classic psychopath. How can I deal with her without loosing my own mind, and being the best I can be for my grand daughter. I don't want her to be hurt.

Thank you for any information you can give me.
KiD
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 11, 2008 @ 1:13 pm
helcast, what do we do? Unfortunately many pyschopaths remain unidentified and are members of society- a constant threat and an unnerving thought. The guy in the VT shooting, however, was not diagnosed because his instructors and family ignored the warning signs (which to me seemed quite blatant). It's scary world.

Geri, my cousin is also a psychopath. You're so noble for caring for your granddaughter and her mom. I wish you strength and blessings. For my cousin, we just have to constantly be frank but nurturing to him. We make sure he knows that he is being erratic when he's behaving as such...we let him know how he SHOULD feel about certain things. The more we individualize him, the more he's able to recognize what will gain him affection and respect.
gregg
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 14, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
so should we nurture such behaviour and guide them as to whats right and wrong or socially acceptable?i have recently come out of a 4 year relationship with a sociopath and still am unable to break the bond.
Jesse
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 30, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
I am a psychopath, as I have been recently diagnosed. We are not all violent and mean. Some of us, me for example, are simply empty. We feel little and are as shallow as a baking pan. I am not out to hurt you or anyone else for that matter but, Gregg, do not get your hopes up about guiding us to the social norm. Actually understanding the social norm is the problem. Our brains are wired so differently that society and its patterns make no sense. I, personally, have to ask "why" to everything. If no one can provide a clear why, I create one and it's usually a very askew perspective. Therein lies the problem. Things have to fit our schema before we can apply them. Violence is often associated with psychopaths and sociopaths because it makes for great drama but a psychopath can have a very successful life without harming anyone; They just don't connect to others as normal people do.
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 30, 2010 @ 6:06 am
My son is just 16 and all his life he has been diagnosed Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD and ODD. Recently his psychologist said he is extremely concerned about his cruelty to animals, his manipulation, physical and verbal abuse and lying. He is obsessed with fires, lies profusely and denies all actions unless backed into a corner then has no guilt and justifies his actions and says 'so what'. His Psychologist said he is heading towards a psychopathic diagnosis. I am tired and emotionally drained and no one will help. He has just had a IQ test that said he is socially (.3%) and memory (9%) retarded but because in everything else he is high functioning, all Govt agencies wont fund us for help and we don't know where to turn. He rules our house simply by saying 'I have rights and you can't do anything about it'. We have been advised to put him on the streets but as a parent that isn't an easy answer to the problem. Bar the criminal record (which I am sure will come eventually) he fits all the categories for psychopath. Can anyone help me with where I can turn next before this child ruins his and our families life?? (We are in Australia)
R Smith
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 22, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Is there anything that can be done in order to evaluate someone who is Psychopathic? My stepson has antisocial personality disorder, is a pathologic liar, and probably Psychopathic. After my wife and I witnessed a violent outburst we believe he is dangerous and kicked him out of our house. I worry about the safety of others that he may or may not harm, (especially children).
K
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 8, 2010 @ 8:20 pm
There must be program for psychopaths to be not necessarily expected to understand society's rules naturally, or through intuition, and empathize with people, but to at least be shown how to project their actions forward in their mind, to emphasize that certain actions won't get them the best result. From there, they could be shown how to think of other actions that get them what they want without hurting anyone.

This way, even if they never understand how it feels to be hurt and empathize with their victims, they can be taught to at least see that society will retaliate if they hurt others and stop their control of their own lives, so it doesn't do them any good in the long run either.

In other words, they could be taught to work with their cold, calculating ways to plan actions ahead in better ways, perhaps ?

Any psychopaths out there have feedback on whether they think this approach would help, or if they know any such programs already in place ?
Marti
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 23, 2010 @ 12:00 am
I have an 84 year old mother who is bi-polar and has psychopathic personality disorder (under medication and psychiatrist care). I am now caring for her and have moved her in to live with me and my family and I am wondering how to protect myself and my family from her cunning and manipulative behavior. She has already had one of her "so-called" friends report me to Adult Protective Services saying that I "pushed her" down our stair way. Approximately one year ago, she fell down the stairs in our home, but it was on her own. Luckily, she's been under a psychiatrist care since she's been living with me and he is well aware of her history and her background. He knows that she has a major problem with tellling the truth but I'm concerned about protecting myself and family from any future drama she may cause.

Any advise will be greatly appreciated!!!
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 17, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
Response to all the people here:

Marti - Get rid of your mother. Put her in a nursing home or just dump her. Why jeopardize you and your family members' well being for someone so obnoxious. She is not young but your kids are. They are also vulnerable.

Cindy - For your and your other kids' sake, Institutionalize or kick him out and forget about him.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 18, 2011 @ 1:01 am
Cindy,

Unfortunately, your son is exhibiting sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies. The anger and sadism manifesting in animal mutilation is considered a significant precursor to violent behavior later in life. If you can't get him proper mental care, or begin fearing for your or your family's safety, he may be too far removed from normal life, and should be institutionalized. If you explain to him how animals simply desire to live, to explore, and continue to survive, then ask him why he would want to stop that, the response should give you a lot to think about.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 29, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
It seems to me that 11 of the traits listed above describing psychopathic behavior can be true of anyone, the remaining 9 are for those who have been caught committing crimes. What about the rest of the society where their behavior seens to be normal. Many of those going undetected are people of wealth and affluence. These people are running the country and dictating what is morally correct in society. Psychopathic behavioral traits include but are not limited criminal activities, but also demonstrates a lack of concern for other peoples feelings, a lack of regard for their safety, along with many, many lies for selfish gain are spread through propaganda via the media. This type of psychopath has been rewarded and gone undetected due to being distracted by survival. I find your testing to be discriminatory and racist, and many of the people incarcerated in the USA are people of color.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 31, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
I stayed married to a sociopath for 20 years. I tried to help him "heal" while he destroyed me physically, financially, etc. My message is that you cannot help these people. Get rid of them as soon as you realize that everything you thought about him or her turns out to be a lie. Save yourself and especially your children. I wish I had.
Nick
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 13, 2011 @ 2:02 am
K,

I find your comments fascinating. Fascinating because I myself am a sociopath. It's very sad that sociopathic/psychopathic people cannot be more forward with doctor's and clinicians with their disorder. Imagine if you didn't have feelings for anyone but you couldn't tell anyone because of fear of how they would react? It's a very lonely existence. I remember when I became aware that I was a sociopath and how disturbed I was by it. I'm non-violent which makes it easier for me to function in society but I can't imagine how hard it is for others. It really bothers me that the only psychopathic people who receive treatment are the ones who have committed crimes and are incarcerated. Those of us who have never broken the law however, have no choice but to remain silent.

I really want to feel emotion and I would love to be a part of program that was dedicated to helping people build emotional responses. These programs need to exist so that people like myself can be treated. It's hard being trapped in your head all the time. You really don't understand what that's like. People always complain of what it's like to be victim to a sociopath but you rarely hear of what it's like to victim of sociopathy -- to have the disorder.
LeeAnn
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 28, 2011 @ 7:07 am
Susan-I was married to a sociopath for 25 years: he lied for 3.5 years about a job he did not have, forged my name on the mortgage, stole my jewellry and pawned it and ran away when he was found out he ran away and is now trying to get 50% of my assets,inheritance and pensions. He has never apologised and said that I was mean to him. All I did was try to help him. Given I live in the UK he may succeed.
Sara Biga
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 9, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
Nick, from my experience it isn't so much about a lack of emotions, but more about non being able to recognise them. You probably do have emotions and they end up registered somewhere in your body, but you're not able to recognise them, and even if/when you realise you're feeling something you have no words to attach to the feeling anyway.
That's the reason why you hear from the victims - they can verbalise their distress: psycopath or sociopath can't.
I have no solutions, but why not start from the way you felt disturbed when realising you're a sociopath. Try to give more details to it, trying to describe the feeling. It's a bit like describing a taste or a smell, it's always approximate.
Jay
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 11, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
I read this and I am sickened by all the comments. No, I am not exaggerating. I am utterly disgusted by the amount of animosity displayed in these comments. You post these horrible comments about people who have problems and *could* be helped if they were just understood a bit more. You speak of them as monsters before suggesting that society abandons and disowns them. Most of you probably vote for human rights, but you are quick to disown anyone that can't do something so mundane as feel emotions. Have any of you considered that these sociopaths might not feel any incentive to change because the society in which they live is already so cold and unforgiving? Who would want to get better for such a place to live?

No, I'm not a sociopath- obviously, since I am infuriated by what I'm reading. In fact, I could say that anyone who could so easily dispose of others in the name of social balance is a 'sociopath'. I understand a lot of you have been hurt by people without empathy, but I'll tell you what...I have been hurt a *lot* by such a lack of empathy by everyone who is doing OK in life and feels too complacent with life to care about anyone who can't measure up to their standards.

It's people like all of you that make me want to say "screw it" to all the 'knowledge' about psychology, after years of being taught by therapists and doctors to get better mainly so other people will like me. I have Bipolar Disorder and OCD, and the fact that I am expected to accept that I am 'flawed' in comparison to you hypocrites infuriates me. You guys lack the empathy you claim to have more than anyone else, and yet, you only write about yourselves, and do so with such pride. You don't deserve to call yourselves compassionate individuals. Do that when you realize that the world is a cruel place, and people suffer outside of your comfy little worlds and limited awareness.
Nana
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 18, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
This is for Jay, my husband is a psychopath, we are married for 11 years and I just want to get way. You have no idea what is life with such a person, they destroy you. When I had cancer he send me away and said he wanted to get divorced. I was no good anymore. We are still married because I spend many time away but I just want to run away from hem. Hope you never meet one.
Tim
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 2, 2012 @ 6:06 am
Jay. Reading between the lines, can you not see the hurt these individuals cause in other's lives? It's not always easy to be compassionate to someone who has destroyed your life. Personally, I don't give a damn what happens to the sociopath who has recently caused so much pain to two of my friends and me. I don't think he should be locked up but if I were to hear that someone had administered to him a sound beating, I would not turn a hair. You can't expect to go through life hurting people so and expect no come-backs. That's life.

I also had bi-polar for many years, but it just doesn't bother me that people see me as flawed. We are all of us flawed, and I have tons of awesome amazing friends who don't see me like that. I seek kind, trusting people out, because that is what I try to be. Sociopaths should leave the rest of us alone and hang out with each other. If indeed they feel nothing, then they can't get hurt.
DianneC
Report this comment as inappropriate
Sep 5, 2012 @ 11:11 am
To Jay:

Obviously you have been affected by your problems with OCD and Bipolar Disorder.
Believe me when I say I feel for you and anyone with mental disease problems. I have a friend with OCD and ADHD and sometimes I need time out with him, however he is my friend and he knows that. I have had a few friends with other problems as well and grew up with a mother who frabricated stories and manipulated others to further her own ends...but I would not go so far to say she was a psychopath, simply a very smart woman who did not live to her potential.

Now, having said that...you are dead wrong about psychopaths. Most are dangerous to society at large in one way or another. I will never befriend a psychopath simply because we can never be best friends who love one another. I will work along side with one, but I will always be watchful.

The few overriding factors that separates psychopathy from other mental disorders is: Psychopaths KNOW EXACTLY what they are and definitely know right from wrong. They are usually intelligent and want what they want with no regard for others. I am not talking about the 1% who are killers and criminals...it's the other 4% that appear normal and live amongst us.

Our only defense (we empaths) is to recognize these differences.

I do agree that before passing judgements, people need to learn more about different mental diseases. For example, I recently learned that autism is opposite to psychopathy.
Psychopaths became really good at reading people so that they can be socially responsive...however usually with ulterior motives. Autistics are empathetic but cannot read people. However they do have human emotions unlike psychopaths.

I am fascinated about what is being learned within the brains. THIS IS SCIENCE!

Perhaps one day, these brain problems can be corrected when discovered in young children.
Now that is what we all ought to hope for.
Also, did you know that psychopathy is inherited (the brain problem I mentioned)?
That ought to tell you something.
george porter
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 3, 2014 @ 12:12 pm
From my personal experience I have two sons; one natural, one adopted. Both are sociopaths, one is also bi-polar. The oldest has made a living hell for anyone around him.
At 15 he was convicted of kidnapping, attempted murder, robbery, grand theft auto ad nauseum. He is now 42 and has spent over half his life incarcerated.
On this Christmas Eve he was released from custody. The first thing he did was telephone my 19 year old grand daughter and ask for money and transportation. She gave him neither and received a death threat for her troubles.
We have tried everything possible to help him but nothing works. We have written him off, disengaged ourselves entirely and hope he obeys the state restraining order. Small chance of that though.

The second showed anti-social problems at a very early age of 9 years. He was also incarcerated at 15 for multiple felonies. When he got out at 21 I warned him he would not survive to 30 if he didn't change his ways. Prophetic words! One day before his 30th birthday he was killed committing another violent crime. Such is life in the real world.

I'll admit to being firm in my views on sociopaths. I feel they have no place in our society unless willing to learn and change their ways. My twenty seven years in law enforcement has exposed me to too many of this ilk.
Mel
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 9, 2014 @ 10:22 pm
If you have a psychopath in your life run as fast as you can in the opposite direction! These people do not deserve kindness and for those psychopaths commenting on this forum asking for the non-psychopaths to have pity on you - can just go to hell. We aren’t stupid, we know you are just trying to use our own ability to feel against us. These people pray on those of us who have feelings for sport! We are their entertainment. I have no pity for psychopaths. They do not deserve anything in life. Highly intelligent and great at reading people… they are all bottom feeders who know right from wrong but mess with us just because they are bored. It’s inexcusable and disgraceful. They are unable to feel. Unable to feel!! They destroy the lives of the people around them unnecessarily. My mother in law is a psychopath and while I can’t avoid or escape my abuser I limit contact. If I must talk to her, keep my conversations about the weather. I say please and thank you and when she asks about my family I tell her everyone is great, thank you for asking. Nothing more. I no longer engage her or tell her anything personal about myself. She can turn just about anything into some drama. The things she’s said and done are just amazingly horrible - so horrible that people can’t even comprehend how or why someone could do those things that they usually don’t believe me and think I’m the crazy one! LOL. I get the “why would anyone do that”… why? how” because she can’t feel anything about anyone, not even her own children.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 28, 2014 @ 6:06 am
This test is 100% in every way inaccurate. Note that it lists "probation violation" something that is completely in the hands of random probation officers, is based merely on laws in America, and has nothing to do in any way with behavior, manipulation by the test-takerx thoughts or ideas of the test-taker, morals, etc. Therefore it is obvious that whoever wrote this test is a complete idiot, making the test invalid.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA