Meloy (1992) broke down psychopathic disturbance as follows:
PCL-R Scores: 10 – 19 Mild psychopathic disturbance
20 – 29 Moderate psychopathic disturbance
30 – 40 Psychopath
Approximately 1% of the population is thought to be psychopathic, yet:
–Psychopaths commit more than 50% of all serious crimes –
-Half of all law enforcement murdered in the line of duty were killed by a psychopath
–Approximately 1 out of 5 persistent domestic abusers are thought to be psychopathic
–50% of all serial rapists are thought to be psychopathic.
Although criminal behavior tends to go hand in hand with psychopathy, not all psychopaths engage in criminal behavior that is grounds for arrest. Or if they do,
they’re too slick to get caught or they may be able to cover up their crimes and misdeeds by using their wit, education, family money, and other connections. Many of them become romantic cons, or they con the elderly or other people, manipulating (robbing) their victims out of money and possessions, which carries a lot less risk than robbing a bank. They know full well there is little recourse to the victim as law enforcement has its hands full with violent crimes and do not usually go full throttle in prosecuting such cases. Many psychopaths have never, nor will they ever seen the inside of a prison, although they may see the inside of your wallet by conning and manipulating you out of what they want, or they may screw you over in some other manner.
However, people other than psychopaths can also engage in extremely bad behavior at times. Donald M. Black, author of Bad Boys, Bad Men: Confronting Antisocial Personality Disorder, says isolated behavior that defies the rules of society is very common n the general population, that many of us flout the rules at some point in our lives. In an ECA study, 30% of the men surveyed in St. Louis admitted four or more moving traffic violations, 18% of the men admitted infidelity in their marriages in three or more affairs,
and 8% admitted to engaging in illegal activity such as drug dealing or other illegal work related activities. In a Baltimore study, 34% of those surveyed had a history of some type of antisocial behavior from time to time. Black says that at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the population has engaged in some degree of antisocial activities, although they don’t have the degree of severity and varied symptoms required for a diagnosis of ASPD.
Recent studies show that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men have extramarital sex at some point in their marital relationship. (Atwood & Schwartz, 2002, Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy). Therefore, the vast majority of people committing infidelity are not psychopaths, yet they are engaging in a good many traits listed on the PCL-R while engaging in the affair. However, their behavior is specific to the situation, and does not carry over into other areas of their lives.
Psychopathy is a severe disorder and as Hare said it is important not to label a person a psychopath just because they engage in behavior from time to time that you find questionable. He also says that a person who scores in the mid range of the PCL-R may not be a very nice person or a model citizen, but they are not a “psychopath”.
Hare states the average person would score a “5” on the PCL-R.
The average PCL-R scores for incarcerated criminals are: 22 for men; 19 for women.
The mean score in the North American forensic psychiatric population is somewhat lower, at around 20.
Many psychiatrist would consider a person who scores as high as 20, but not high enough to be classified as a psychopath, to be a sociopath.