The following is a description of a prominent type of psychopath postulated by Theodore Millon and Roger Davis in there Ten Sub-types of Psychopathy model, and one that is found within the realms of various forms of social control. This form of psychopathy is one in which there is a high degree of narcissism and so, is often found in conjunction with narcissistic personality disorder. The Unprincipled Psychopath may also suffer co-morbidity with other forms of mental illness as well.
“The unprincipled psychopath is seen most frequently in conjunction with narcissistic personality patters. These individuals are often successful in keeping their activities just within the bounds of the law, and infrequently enter into clinical treatment.
These psychopaths exhibit an arrogant sense of self-worth, an indifference to the welfare of others, and a fraudulent social manner. There is a desire to exploit others, or at least expect special recognition and considerations without assuming reciprocal responsibilities. A deficient social conscience is evident in the tendency to flout conventions, to engage in actions that raise questions of personal integrity, and to disregard the rights of others. Achievement deficits and social responsibilities are justified by expansive fantasies and frank prevarications. Descriptively, we may characterize this psychopath as devoid of a superego – that is, as evidencing and unscrupulous, amoral, and deceptive approach to relationships with others. More than merely disloyal and exploitative, these psychopaths may be found among society’s con artists, and charlatans, many of whom are vindictive toward and contemptuous of their victims.
The unprincipled psychopath often evidences a rash willingness to risk harm and is usually fearless in the face of threats and punitive action. Malicious tendencies are projected outward, precipitating frequent personal and family difficulties, as well as occasional legal entanglements. Vengeful gratification is often obtained by humiliating others. These narcissistic psychopaths operate as if they have no principles other than exploiting others for their personal gain. Lacking a genuine sense of guilt and possessing little social conscience, they are opportunists who enjoy the process of swindling others, outwitting them in a game they enjoy playing, which others are held in contempt because of the ease with which they can be seduced. Relationships survive only as long as this type of psychopath has something to gain. People are dropped with no thought to the anguish they may experience as a consequence of the psychopath’s irresponsible behaviors.
These psychopaths display an indifference to truth that, if brought to their attention, is likely to elicit an attitude of nonchalant indifference. They are skillful in the ways of social influence, are capable of feigning an air of justified innocence, and are adept in deceiving others with charm and glibness. Lacking any deep feelings of loyalty, they may successfully scheme beneath a veneer of politeness and civility. Their principal orientation is that of outwitting others – “Do unto others before they do unto you.” A number of these psychopaths attempt to present an image of cool strength, acting arrogant and fearless. To prove their courage, they may invite danger and punishment. But punishment only verifies their unconscious recognition that they probably deserve to be punished for their unprincipled behaviors. Rather than having a deterrent effect, it only reinforces their exploitative behaviors.
In many ways, the unprincipled psychopath is similar to the disingenuous psychopath, to whom we will turn next. They share a devious and guileful style, plotting and scheming in their calculations to manipulate others. However, the disingenuous psychopath, a variant of the histrionic personality, continues to pursue a strong need for attention and approval – characteristics not present in the unprincipled psychopath, who exhibits a basic self-centeredness and indifference to the attitudes and reactions of others. Unprincipled psychopaths prey on the weak and vulnerable, enjoying their dismay and anger; disingenuous psychopaths, by contrast, seek to hold the respect and affection of those they put aside in their pursuit of new sources of love and admiration.”
Studies indicate that sociopathy involves an altered processing of emotional stimuli at the level of the cerebral cortex and it is likely to be the result of a heritable neurodevelopmental difference that can be either slightly compensated for, or made much worse, by child-rearing or cultural factors. There is no reason to assume this would be different in cases of psychopathy.