Psychopathy in violent female offenders in Finland.

Research paper by Ghitta G Weizmann-Henelius, Vappu V Viemerö, Markku M Eronen

Indexed on: 09 Sep '04Published on: 09 Sep '04Published in: Psychopathology


The base rate and construct of psychopathy in violent female offenders were examined.More than half of all violent female offenders in Finland who where either hospitalised (n=12) or incarcerated (n=46) during the year of the study were assessed by the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), Structured Clinical Interview II for DSM-IV, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory-II and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised.PCL-R mean scores and a base rate of psychopathy were found to be in line with earlier studies, showing both lower values and prevalence in females. The PCL-R correlated with symptoms of cluster B personality disorders as well as with depressive personality disorder. Factor 2 was observed to positively correlate with anxiety and depression and negatively with verbal cognitive ability. Logistic regression analysis on the PCL-R items revealed that the items shallow affect, lack of remorse or guilt, conning/manipulation and lack of realistic goals seem to be important indicators of female psychopathy together with callous/lack of empathy, impulsivity and failure to accept responsibility for own actions.The finding indicates that the prevalence of psychopathy is lower among female offenders than among male offenders, but further research is needed to examine the base rate of psychopathy in women, and whether the symptoms of psychopathy are expressed differently in women than in men.