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Joseph, B. (1960). Some Characteristics of the Psychopathic Personality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:526-531.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:526-531

Some Characteristics of the Psychopathic Personality

Betty Joseph

In this paper I shall discuss some characteristics of the psychopathic personality. I use the term here in the sense in which it is generally employed in psychiatric and psycho-analytic literature. I cannot, in a paper of this length, discuss the analytic literature on the subject, but would refer particularly to Alexander (1), Bromberg (2), Deutsch (3), Fenichel (4), Greenacre (5), Reich (9), Wittels (10). It will be seen that my approach to the problem is essentially dependent upon an understanding of the work of Melanie Klein (6), (7), (8).

I shall limit myself to describing and discussing one psychopathic patient whom I have had in treatment for about three years. I shall then draw certain conclusions from this case which seem to me, both by comparison with other psychopathic patients and from a perusal of the literature, to be relevant to the psychopathology of the non-criminal psychopath in general.

X was 16 when he came into treatment. His family is Jewish. His father is a somewhat weak and placating man; he works in a large industrial concern, but originally trained as a lawyer. The mother, of French origin, is an anxious and excitable woman who looks younger than her age. She started running a small café a few months before treatment started. There is a daughter who is two years younger and is more stable than X. There seems considerable tension between the parents, but both are concerned about X. X was referred for restless, unhappy and unsettled behaviour.

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