Among a German Sample of Forensic Patients, Previous Animal Abuse Mediates Between Psychopathy and Sadistic Actions

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Abstract

In an attempt to explain the relationship between psychopathy and severe violent behavior, this study associates previous animal abuse, psychopathy, and sadistic acting in forensic patients. Two topics are addressed: (i) whether previous animal abuse can be identified by a patient's Psychopathy Checklist profile and (ii) whether animal abuse statistically mediates between psychopathy and sadistic acting. In a German forensic hospital, 60 patients were investigated. Animal abuse was assessed using face-to-face interviews and the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV), and sadistic acting was identified by file records.Discriminant analysis separated previous animal abuse (10/60) by high adolescent antisocial behavior, superficiality, lack of remorse, lack of empathy, and grandiosity. The mediation from psychopathy to sadistic acting (6/60) through animal abuse was found to be complete.The results, although sample size is limited and base rate of animal abuse and sadistic acting are low, fit with a model suggestive of animal abuse as a causal step toward sadistic crimes. Animal abuse correlates with callous, unemotional traits, and a development of sadistic crimes.

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