Psychopathic Primary Aggressor
The word psychopathic is used differently in psychology (and in this website,) than in sensational newspaper headlines. As a psychological 'type' it denotes a person who manages all their relationships by a need to dominate. Psychopathic primary aggressors, unlike other types of primary aggressor, act similarly outside their romantic relationships, but usually, opportunities to control are greater inside such relationships. In this style, unlike the other two, angry attachment is not a necessary element, though it may be present. Psychopathic and narcissistic traits are very often seen together but not always. While there is a well-validated twenty trait tool for assessing psychopathy, the basic features can be organized under the "five i's".
- Insincerity saying what one believes the other person wants to hear, to exploit the person or gain their cooperation.
- Irresponsibility refusing to own and respond to the consequences of choices.
- Irritability quickly becoming agitated when things don't go as wanted or expected
- Indifference unwillingness to modify or stop behavior because of it's effects on others. People who get hurt along the way are thought of as in the wrong place at the wrong time, that is 'casaulties of war.'
- Impulsivity quick choices and actions made without respect to easily foreseeable consequences to the person.
The psychopathic structure accounts for perhaps forty percent of primary aggressors brought into treatment in the United States. This style is perhaps the most problematical for psycho-educational approaches to change because the ability and tendency to dominate is so structured into the basic character. This style of primary aggressor is at least consciously very motivated to stay out of jail, because physical movement and change is an important way to avoid anxiety. However, irritability and impulsivity undermine intentions to 'stay out of trouble.'
In primary aggression treatment, a 'low-targeting' psychopathic client will have a dismissing attitude toward the treatment and do 'just enough' to avoid being jailed. A 'high-targeting' psychopathic client will attempt to dominate the group and the treatment staff by eloquent, technically accurate, but insincere and slightly twisted restatements of the material presented. This latter style presents the danger that such a high-targeting client, in the absence of good insincerity detection, will be inappropriately re-privileged as a 'model participant.'