Female Psychopathy and Aggression: A Study with Incarcerated Women and Rorschach Aggression Scores [2020]

Psychopathy is an essential construct in forensic mental health. While male psychopathy and aggression has been thoroughly studied, less is known about this relationship with female psychopathy. In this article, the relationship between female psychopathy (Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [PCL-R] total, factor, and facet scores) and the Rorschach Aggression indices (Aggressive Movement [AG], Aggressive Content [AgC], Aggressive Past [AgPast], Aggressive Potential [AgPot], Sadomasochistic Aggression [SM]) were examined. Rorschach Aggression indices between female psychopathic (PCL-R total score ≥ 30; N = 84) and non-psychopathic female offenders (PCL-R total score ≤ 24; N = 39) were also compared. PCL-R total score was significantly correlated (p <.05) with AgC, AgPast, AgPot, and SM and there were also significant correlations between the Aggression scores and PCL-R Factor/facet scores. The female psychopaths produced more AgC, AgPast, and AgPot responses than the non-psychopathic females. Rorschach aggression indices supported theory and suggested that the violence in psychopathic women stems from their identification with aggression and pervasive feelings of entitlement. Psychopathic women evidenced higher levels of these variables than the non-psychopathic offenders. The results add to the link between aggression and psychopathy as well as a better understanding of aggression in female offenders.

Jason M. Smith, Carl B. Gacono & Ted B. Cunliffe
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, Volume 29, 2020 – Issue 8