Can Psychopathy be Treated?

Can Psychopathy be Treated?

Although the definition of psycopathy has varied over the years, it is in its broadest sense a personality disorder and is considered a mental illness. Psychopaths are known to exhibit remorse, a lack of empathy and bold behavior. These characteristics have led them to be labeled killers. The debate as to whether the disorder is treatable has been in existence for quite a long time with most people believing that there is no cure. Currently, research shows that the problem is not curable but there is reason to believe that the studies could be wrong. In fact, treatment of psycopathy has been ongoing for a long time but there is still no cure to date.

According to Maibom (2014) there is reason to believe that psycopathy is treatable, or at least it is worth trying. In fact, psycopathy is not resistant to psychotherapy but it does provide major resistances and counter transference. The degree of these resistances is actually higher in adults than it is in children. Regardless of the treatment model that a clinician adopts, the leading question should be whether there is likelihood of a psychotherapeutic change in the patient. The decision to treat a patient is dependent on the clinician’s heart and soul (Maibom, 2014).

The first thing to look out for is the clarification of roles so as to avoid patients from deceiving the clinician. The conundrum is in the fact that ethics dictate that a clinician believes what the patient says yet these patients should be presumed to deceive. Michael’s psycopathy is still not severe and can actually be seen as slightly above the mild classification. As thus, treatment is highly likely to bear fruits because psychotherapy is more likely to fail as the severity increases. The boy can also benefit from regular individual psychotherapy because there is no fear of him attacking the clinician. In fact, the fear of attack from the patients is one the key factors that leads to clinicians opting not to treat psycopathy (Meloy, 2004).

Michael’s treatment can also benefit from his ability to form emotional relationship with the psychotherapist. In this regard, there is no fear of him attacking the clinician or developing resistance to the psychotherapy.  Moreover, Michael falls under the second level of superego pathology that is considered among the most treatable (Kahn, 2012). The reason for this classification is because he has a subtle dependence on psychotherapy. His characteristics and behavior has shown that he has an enraged personality but is able to identify his antisocial behavior. All these behaviors are characteristic of the second level of superego pathology.

Past studies have found out a smaller portion of grey matter among psychopaths relative to normal humans. This finding attest to the fact that psychopaths have a different brain from the normal human brain and thus the behavior they display. With these findings, it is easier to work out a treatment model that involves decompression of their grey matter. Although the model has not been confirmed to be effective and is still being studied by scientists, it does provide a real chance for treatment of persons like Michael (Meloy, 2004).

The fact that Michael’s condition has been treated in vain before is demoralizing to the parents. However, there is no other viable option besides trying to find a better treatment. The current treatment models have proven to have a high rate of failure but there is still hope that a more effective treatment will be found. Michael’s case is particularly encouraging because he is still at a young stage and could benefit from research advancement.



Meloy, J. R. (2004). The psychopathic mind: Origins, dynamics, and treatment. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Inc.

Maibom, H. (2014). To Treat a Psychopath. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 31-42.

Kahn, J. (2012, May 11). Can you call a nine-year-old a psychopath. The New York Times.


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