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Sexual Sadism and Trauma in Psychopathy

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Early Developmental Mechanisms Predicting Sexual Sadism and Psychopathy Amongst Forensic Mental Health Patients

  • IRAS ID

    224145

  • Contact name

    Theodoros Papagathonikou

  • Contact email

    t.papagathonikou@qmul.ac.uk

  • Sponsor organisation

    Queen Mary University of London

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    2 years, 0 months, 1 days

  • Research summary

    Psychopathy is a controversial disorder, which has been associated with violence, crime and antisocial behaviour. Sexual sadism and psychopathy share several common characteristics, such as emotional detachment from the suffering of the others, an inordinate amount of aggression; and they have also been linked to violence, sexual offending, sexual homicide, as well as to non-sexual violence (Meloy, 2001). Although there is a theoretical overlap between psychopathy and sexual sadism, the empirical correlation and measurement of the relationship between the two constructs are very rare within the scientific literature.

    Considering that the fundamental causes of the psychopathy and sexual sadism remain unclear, this research is designed to investigate the early etiological and developmental mechanisms that could potentially explain and predict psychopathic and sadistic behaviour, such as dysfunctional relationships with caregivers, trauma, narcissism, parental dysfunction, negative care childhood experiences that impact upon adult personality development in individuals who are psychopathic and sadistic. The research has two additional objectives: to establish the potential relationship between sexual sadism and psychopathy; and to research the role of sadism in the construct of psychopathy. To answer these questions, the researcher will distribute questionnaires (RAAS;TEC;RSQ;NPI-16;ASP) to a sample of sixty participants, who have diagnosed as having psychopathy and allocated to a High Secure Mental Health service as part of their pathway plan and treatment.These self-report instruments address trauma, narcissism, sadistic traits and attachment pathologies. The presence of sexual sadism (e.g. taking pleasure from others' discomfort) will be measured using the SESAS in the sample of psychopathic offenders.The researcher will also conduct semi-structured interviews for the qualitative part of the study. Within the sample of 60 participants, those 12 participants with the highest and lowest scores on the Assessment of Sadistic Personality (ASP) will be approached for interview, to a total of 24 interview participants.

  • REC name

    East Midlands - Leicester South Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference

    17/EM/0282

  • Date of REC Opinion

    23 Aug 2017

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion