The psychopathic–sexually sadistic offender

Authored by: Shayne Jones , Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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The current chapter provides an overview of the relationship between psychopathy and sexual offending with particularly attention to sexual sadism. We discuss some of the current explanations of the psychopathic–sexually sadistic offender, but we also denote a model that emphasizes the perceptual and emotional deficits characteristic of this type of offender. Specifically, we focused on those sex offenders with high levels of psychopathic traits and who are sexually sadistic. We noted that both psychopathy and sexual sadism, uniquely, are related to sexual offending (even though these literatures have some discrepancies and mixed findings). However, the sex offender who is comorbid for psychopathy and sexual sadism represents a potentially very dangerous type of offender. This is supported by both theoretical and empirical accounts. We refer to this type as the psychopathic–sexually sadistic offender and suggest the interaction between these disorders will lead to more sexual offending, more violent sexual offenses, and even sexual homicides. Although this type of offender is likely rare, given the potential harm they pose to public safety it is important for continued efforts to better understand them.

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