Psychopathy in the Medical Emergency Department

J Pers Disord. 2018 Aug;32(4):482-496. doi: 10.1521/pedi_2017_31_308. Epub 2017 Sep 14.


Psychopathy is a personality disorder representing an admixture of a fearless and dominant temperament with an impulsive and antisocial orientation. A sample of 1,026 participants in the waiting room of the medical emergency department of a city hospital exhibited levels of fearless dominance similar to university undergraduates and federal inmates; their levels of impulsive antisociality fell between those of federal and state inmates. Both psychopathy factors were correlated with male gender, younger age, and more frequent average alcohol consumption. Fearless dominance was associated with agentic success (e.g., being employed, higher household income), fewer psychological problems, and less use of psychotropic medications, including anxiolytics. Impulsive antisociality was negatively related to both agentic and communal (e.g., ever being married) success and positively correlated with substance use and self-reported bipolar, ADHD, and psychotic psychiatric conditions. Further, only impulsive antisociality was associated with presenting to the emergency department for physical injury or psychological disturbance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology