Shadd Maruna is Professor at Queen's University Belfast and Director of the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice. This SCCJR 4th annual lecture entitled 'What are Psychopaths for?' was delivered at Edinburgh University on the 1st June.
ABSTRACT: Psychologists inside and outside the criminal justice system spends an inordinate amount of time assessing prisoners and probationers for psychopathy. In this talk, I will ask why. Does the diagnosis merit the attention it is given by practitioners? If not, then what accounts for our obsession with psychopathy? I make a case from a psychological point of view, but one that puts Us (psychology, society, the criminal justice system) on “the couch” rather than the psychopath. I argue that the diagnosis of psychopathy can be seen to serve our interests in numerous ways, even though its alleged instrumental function is badly oversold. We need psychopaths, even if they do not need us.