SSSP meeting highlights: Psychopathy in women

The Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy met in New Orleans, LA April 16-18, 2009. There were several hot topics discussed at the meeting including how psychopathy might be different in men and women. The general consensus seemed to be that psychopathy is under-diagnosed in women because in women the symptoms are different.

Dr. Edelyn Verona is a, leader in the Society. Her group presented, “An Examination of Borderline Personality Disorder and Secondary Psychopathy Across Genders.” To understand these research findings look at the list of traits below:

Factor 1 Traits (Primary Psychopathy)
• Glib and superficial
• Egocentric and grandiose
• Lack of remorse or guilt
• Lack of empathy
• Deceitful and manipulative
• Shallow emotions

Factor 2 Traits (Secondary Psychopathy)
• Impulsive
• Poor behavior controls
• Need for excitement
• Lack of responsibility
• Early behavior problems
• Adult antisocial behavior

Dr. Verona’s group looked at the relationship between borderline personality (BPD) traits Factor 1 and Factor 2 in women. They stated, “We hypothesized that gender would moderate the relationship between secondary psychopathic characteristics and features, such that Factor 2 would correlate more strongly with BPD in women than in men. We further expected that primary psychopathic characteristics would be negatively related to BPD.”

The first part of their hypothesis turned out to be supported, that is Factor 2 was associated with BPD in both men and women but more so women.

More important though, is that the second part of their hypothesis was not supported. Primary psychopathic features were positively related to BPD and “F2 was significantly more predictive of BPD in high F1 women relative to low F1 women.”

The authors concluded, “In particular, the combination of F1 and F2 seems predictive of BPD in women, but not men. This suggests that psychopathy (which is typically defined as being high on both F1 and F2) is manifested as BPD in women.”
Their conclusions are supported by other studies showing a positive correlation between psychopathy and BPD scores.

I spoke with Dr. Verona about their findings, commenting that many psychiatrists consider BPD to be a mood or anxiety disorder. She answered that the criteria for BPD are not precise enough. A woman with PTSD and/or mood symptoms can be diagnosed with BPD if she is also impulsive. It does not seem fitting to group these women together with psychopathic women, especially since the treatment may be different for those who have mood/anxiety disorders.

What does this all mean for you who have family members or co-workers with BPD? My advice is consider the degree of harm done by the person in the context of Factor 1 and Factor 2 traits. The more a woman or man has BOTH sets of traits, the more dangerous she/he is likely to be.

Comment on this article

117 Comments on "SSSP meeting highlights: Psychopathy in women"

Notify of


I have to get off, but I agree with erin1972 – you’re a great guy. It’s unfortunate how our family of origin (and the world at large) can totally screw us up, mistreat us, really damaging our psyche, causing us to spend our adult years trying to undo the harm that was done. We need more people like you in this world. As far as I’m concerned, people should be more careful about what they say, thinking before they speak (referring to your father). Words have power in them, blessing and/or cursing others.

so u divorce thsoe people..or think of it that way? it seems so hard to get away from family members…..I agree as I dont like to call her ‘mother’….but other names….but it’s hard as the ties just feel like they’re there….I wish I could, but it seems harder as the years go by….my mother/family also has control over me in other forms legally or financially….so tis hard to say goodbye and they have that much more control…..but the worst part is….their continuous abuse….so i get they want to break their victims down, maybe but what pleasure do these sick people get in trying to stop others from succeeding in life, living life, being independent, and they want dependence on them….. aside from being dysfunctional/narcissists is there a real solid reason why these people want tos top others from succeeding doing things, how theyre so successful at it….and why they get away with it—is this just evil…..the worst part is their success at destroying ‘you’ your happiness, your soul everything….they somehow ‘win’ and end up ruining you….is their motive based only on being evil….it confuses me because….what kind of people are out to destroy others and nothing else and so jealous that they go out of their way and so determined to do this…..their determination alone makes them so successful at doing this….other than no contact, there has to be a way to deal with these monsters or creeps….and their sick ways and abusive tactics…..for some reason i cant seem to figure it out though and it seems like some impossible feat….why are sp’s so successful at destroying trapping their vcitims

bluejay said-“I have to get off”—Dirty!!!!


I did some computer work, then returned to this site. I don’t want to think about THAT because I do miss it, not wanting to be celibate the rest of my life, that’s for sure.

WOW……go girls!!!

Bluejay~ I don’t think most of us want the celebate lifestyle…..but after awhile it’s like turning back into a virgin again!
I’ve learned to ‘value’ myself in the sexual way too! Something I never did with spath. I was his to do as he pleased….not what I desired. If I asked for something…..It was a guarentee I wasn NOT going to get it!!!
So, at this point, 2.5 years into my ‘celebate lesbian’ lifestyle…..(I say this because I value my gf’s and our relationships…..BUT….don’t want to have sex with them). I can confide in my gf’s, I can do activities with my gf’s, I can cry and share joy with my gf’s…..and that is what I want from a male relationship….include sex in the male relationship too.
I’ve got it all, minus the sex…..with my gf’s… i’m a celebate lesbian! 🙂
One day…..I will meet the man I choose to give the gift of me to… who will value ME, cherish ME and partner with ME.

Until then……well…..I hope the electricity doesn’t go out!! 🙂

If you want independence from someone, toxic or not…..YOU need to go out and ‘get it’.
If the person is controlling you financially, become finacially independent of them.
Reduce and eliminate ANY control this toxic person has over you. Be in control of your own life!

It may take a reduction in lifestyle for a bit…..but the benefits of becoming independent are well worth the temporary reduction.

When you don’t rely on someone for something……YOU can state your wishes without being on eggshells your gonna be punished.

Unless you learn to ‘play the game’…..and quite frankly…..the expense of playing the game with a parent or someone you don’t have to be involved with is HIGH!

If you are co-parenting with a spath…..then your in it until kids turn 18….so ya better start learning the ‘game’.
But…..a parent…..evolve away from them if you are being destroyed by them……


I hear you! I do PRAY that we end up with terrific men, being great partners. Life is brief, not wanting to waste time on unproductive relationships.

1 10 11 12

Send this to a friend