The historical roots of the concepts of abnormal personality, social deviance, delinquency and penal responsibility are described, demonstrating that former concepts of psychopathic personality often included negative social evaluations. Modern classification systems such as DSM-III-R and ICD-10 prefer a behavior-oriented definition of personality disorders, which increases reliability but may lead to a reductionistic and purely criteriological assessment of personality. A checklist for the assessment of personality disorders (AMPS) according to ICD-10 and DSM-III-R is presented, including four subaffective forms derived from the typology of personality disorders described by Kurt Schneider and Kretschmer. To justify statements of diminished legal responsibility or irresponsibility under the German Penal Code, a differentiation between psychopathological phenomena in personality disorders and pure social deviance is needed. The three notions of psychopathy, sociopathy and dissocial behavior are suggested to guide necessary decisions concerning prognosis and therapy chances.