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CHAPTER FIVE: Malignant narcissism, psychopathy, and perversion

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“The human mind needs to relate to the other in order to develop”

(Ferro, 2005, p. 15)

Ihave previously noted how, as a result of disruptions to attachment and emotional development, some juvenile sex offenders relate to others through either sexualized or violently sexualized means. Indeed, what characterizes the psychopathic offender is his desire to hurt and coerce others. In this chapter, I explicate how narcissism, when it becomes “malignant”, links to the behaviours and attitudes which constitute what is described as psychopathy and to consider its connection to sexual perversion.

Malignant narcissism, as a term, has evolved over time. Eric Fromm (1964) in his book, The Heart of Man, described it as: “The most severe pathology and the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity” (p. 33).

Akhtar (2009) points to Weigert’s (1967) view of malignant narcissism as involving a regressive state, encompassing denial and a distortion of reality and coexisting with a benign narcissism, which she saw as a type of enhanced self-esteem linked to having survived adversity. Ahtkar notes that Weigert also felt that “there was no sharp division between the two forms of narcissism” (Akhtar, 2009, p. 163).

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CHAPTER SEVEN: The study and its findings

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

Clinical descriptions of juvenile sex offenders suggest that they may be a heterogeneous group with varied attachment styles and different levels of psychopathy. This profile is supported by the more prolific research with adult sex offenders (Marshall, Geris,&Cortoni, 2000; Marshall, Hudson,&Hodkinson, 1993).

Psychopathy in combination with sexual deviance has also been found to predict recidivism. It also predicts offence types among adult sex offenders. Adult rapists appear to have much higher levels of psychopathy than child molesters, with the latter group appearing to have other types of personal difficulties associated with social isolation and immaturity (Marshall, 1989; Marshall, Cripps, Anderson,&Cortoni, 1999). It is important to note that this does not preclude a group of psychopathic offenders (whose intent is primarily to hurt) who also target children.

Juvenile sex offenders have been found to reveal different levels of antisocialness which appeared to be linked with their offence type (Worling, 1995). Types of offending and victim choice also seem to link with different personality characteristics, which, in turn, appear to have some correlation with antisocialness (see Chapter Two). Related to this, adult sex offenders who molest children are less likely to be antisocial or to offend non-sexually. Their personality characteristics seem to be related to their inability to relate to adults in a mature, reciprocal, and emotionally meaningful way (Ward&Siegert, 2002).

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CHAPTER FOUR: Psychopathy and juvenile sex offending

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“The determination at all costs not to risk again the disappointment and resulting rages and longings which wanting someone very much and not getting them involves”

(Bowlby, 1944, cited in Holmes, 1993, p. 87)

Psychopathy is synonymous with an obfuscation of the need for attachment. Bowlby (1944) described psychopaths as “detached”. Psychopathy can, therefore, be seen as representing psychopathology, which involves the most extreme incapacity for attachment. There is considerable evidence that implicates psychopathy in juvenile sex offending.

The nature of psychopathy

Psychopathy is regarded as a personality disorder. Drawing heavily on Cleckly’s (1941) work, Hare describes psychopathy as consisting of a characteristic pattern of interpersonal, affective, and behavioural symptoms so that, on an interpersonal level, psychopaths are shown to be grandiose, egocentric, manipulative, forceful, and cold-hearted. In terms of their affect, they display shallow and labile emotions and are unable to form long-lasting bonds to people, principles, and goals. They experience little anxiety, genuine guilt, or remorse. Behaviour-ally, psychopaths are impulsive and sensation seeking, and they readily violate social norms. The most obvious expressions of these predispositions “involve criminality, substance abuse, and a failure to fulfill social obligations and responsibilities” (Hare, 1991, p. 3).

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CHAPTER THREE: Attachment and juvenile sex offending CHAPTER FOUR: Psychopathy and juvenile sex offending

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“Because some of my ideas are alien to the theoretical traditions that have become established, and so have met with strong criticism, I have been at pains to show that most of them are by no means alien to what Freud himself thought and wrote”

(Bowlby, 1969, p. xv)

This chapter examines what is known about the connection between attachment and sex offending, specifically juvenile sex offending. Consistent with contemporary views and research findings in the broader field of enquiry into sexuality and attachment (Diamond, Blatt,&Lichtenberg, 2007), the research linking the two is underpinned by a view that attachment and sexuality are separate but strongly interconnected behavioural systems, such that secure attachment appears to strongly predict psycho-sexual maturity and adjustment.

Many definitions of attachment (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters,&Wall, 1978; Bartholomew, 1990; Diamond, Blatt,&Lichtenberg, 2007; Fonagy, 2001; Main&Hess, 1990; Zeanah, 1993) have highlighted the fact that attachment involves the subjective perception of another person (initially the mother or primary care-giver) as a source of psychological safety and security (Widlocher, 2001). Attachment is, thus, antithetical to isolation and loneliness and is the vehicle through which human beings achieve the satisfying emotional exchanges necessary for psychological health and well-being.

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CHAPTER TWO: The characteristics and differences of juvenile sex offenders

Keogh, Timothy Karnac Books ePub

“Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous”

(Plato, 427 BC, cited in Wall, 2011, p. 247)

Juvenile sex offenders as a group have generally been shown to have significant psychopathology that is different from that of non-sexual offenders (Seto&Lalumière, 2010). They also appear to be different psychologically from other non-offending adolescents (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh,&Seidler, 2001; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski 2000; Keogh&Hayes, 2003; van Wijk et al., 2006), although they may present as similar to other adolescents, often appearing like “the boy (or girl) next door” in many other respects. As a group, they also exhibit heterogeneity in terms of their psychopathology, which appears to account for differences in their sexual offence types.

Characteristics of juvenile sex offenders

Juvenile sex offenders have been found to be predominantly male, despite an increase in the number of female sex offenders (Burton, Miller,&Shill, 2002), with the typical offender being fourteen years old and offending against children who are female and seven years of age (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski, 2000). Although Afro-American and Hispanic offenders are over-represented in US samples (Davis&Leitenberg, 1987; Hsu&Starzynski, 1990; Vinogradov, Dishotsky, Doty,&Tinklenberg, 1988), juvenile sex offenders in other western cultures, including the UK and Australia, have been found to be from Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds (Dolan, Holloway, Bailey,&Kroll, 1996; Kenny, Keogh, Seidler,&Blaszczynski, 2000; Manocha&Mezey, 1998; van Wijk, van Horn, Bullens, Bijleveld,&Doreleijers, 2005).

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