Searching for Psychopaths
Dr Nathan Brooks has vast experience working with psychopathic personality as both a clinician and academic. Psychopathy is one of the foremost constructs within the field of forensic psychology, with practitioners requiring a sound understanding of psychopathy to practice competently. Dr Brooks strives to promote the understanding and importance of psychopathy in clinical and forensic practice, whilst continuing to develop a body of work to refine the scientific and empirical knowledge on psychopathic personality.
Dr Nathan Brooks is versed in the assessment of psychopathic personality as it relates to criminal behaviour. He has completed an array of psychological and risk assessments on psychopathic offenders, providing recommendations in relation to risk, management and treatment. He continues to provide consultation and assessment services in relation to high-harm and high-risk matters.
To promote greater practice in the assessment of psychopathy, Dr Brooks has developed the Clinical Classification Criteria of Psychopathy, intended to promote the understanding and decision making relating to psychopathic individuals. The consequences of poor decision making and inappropriate assessment practices pertaining to psychopathy can lead to adverse outcomes, including impacting community safety.
Dr Brooks advocates for the assessment of psychopathic personality in forensic contexts, believing that this practice is essential to understanding personality and behavioural patterns, potential risks, appropriate management strategies, and treatment targets.
In the past decade, there has been a growing body of research and evidence demonstrating the presence of psychopathic personality in high functioning populations. The emergence of ‘corporate psychopathy’ has been largely influence by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, along with additional events such as the decline of Enron and the multi-billion-dollar Ponzi Scheme by Bernie Madoff. These events served as a catalyst for investigations and subsequent research examining the corporate sectors, particularly those tasked with making decision about the direction of a given company.
Corporate psychopathy is problematic for organisations, impacting the wellbeing of staff and jeopardising the reputation of a business. Psychopathic personality is associated with poorer work performance and can contribute to a toxic work environment, through bullying, deceit or even fraudulent behaviour. Businesses have a duty of care to their staff and this begins with appropriate steps in employee recruitment. A failure to implement screening and assessment at the recruitment stage can have enormous implications for an organisation and this can expose a business to being negligent. In addition to recruitment, it is essential that organisations have appropriate management polices in place for conduct issues, as failure to detect issues and support staff can result in reduced profits and employee turnover.
Along with colleagues, Dr Brooks has developed the Corporate Personality Inventory-Revised (CPI-R) and the Corporate Personality Inventory-Third Party Version, designed to examine dark personality traits in the workplace. The CPI measures have been examined with over 1000 corporate professionals, identifying the relationships between problematic personality styles and workplace outcomes. The measures have clinical and research utility in the corporate setting as assessment and screening tools.
Dr Nathan Brooks has also recently published a book with Dr Katarina Fritzon and Professor Simon Croom. The book, Corporate Psychopathy: Investigating Destructive Personalities in the Workplace, is a critical review of the knowns and unknowns relating to psychopathic personality in business.
The Clinical Classification Criteria of Psychopathy
The Clinical Classification Criteria of Psychopathy (CCCP) is formulated to guide and assist in the decision making related to psychopathic personality, providing structured criteria to overcome the current diagnostic and interpretative challenges concerning psychopathy (Cooke, 2018; Skeem et al., 2011). The lack of specification pertaining to psychopathic personality traits and behaviours leads to clinical and forensic decisions being made on what is considered to be a ‘prototypical psychopath’, a position implying that all psychopathic individuals are essentially the same
The CCCP specifies criteria to determine the clinical presentation and overall severity of psychopathic personality based on four core specification criteria. This information is then used to establish risk, treatment, and management and safety processes relevant to the individual.
The CCCP specifying criteria include: cruelty-sadism (mild, moderate, severe; with sadism or without sadism), social adjustment (poor, integrated, adept), disinhibition (mild, moderate, severe) and capacity (criminally inclined, unremarkable, accomplished, criminally inclined-accomplished). The process for implementing the CCCP is as follows: step one, involves the administering of a standardised assessment protocol to examine psychopathy personality (e.g., PCL-R; PPI-R; CAPP-Symptom Rating Scale-Clinical Interview); step two, upon a significant elevation being identified on an assessment instrument, the CCCP is applied to results, determining the specific clinical features applicable to the presentation; step three, the assessment results and endorsement of CCCP are jointly considered to determine the severity of psychopathy; step four, the culmination of clinical and assessment evidence is utilised to determine risk, treatment, management and safety strategies appropriate to the severity and clinical presentation of the person.