Subtypes of psychopathy: proposed differences between narcissistic, borderline, sadistic, and antisocial psychopaths

Psychiatr Q. 2003 Spring;74(1):11-29. doi: 10.1023/a:1021137521142.


Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) is a maximum-security forensic hospital that houses male patients with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses. Psychopaths at this institution appear to be a heterogeneous group of individuals who, while sharing core personality characteristics, manifest substantial variability in their behavior. Identifying subtypes within this clinical classification can have implications for patient treatment and management, as well as for the safety of the staff who work with them and for the communities to which they will eventually return. Several means of identifying subtypes have been proposed in the literature, and potential subgroups have been identified. Clinical observations at ASH have suggested 4 possible subtypes of psychopathy: narcissistic, borderline, sadistic, and antisocial. Issues related to the conceptualization of psychopathy are addressed, recognizing that additional data are needed to understand the observed variations in cases of psychopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / classification*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / therapy
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / classification
  • California
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Hospitals, State
  • Humans
  • MMPI
  • Male
  • Narcissism
  • Personality Disorders / classification*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Sadism / classification