© 2016

Psychopathy as Unified Theory of Crime


  • Presents the work of one of the most internationally acclaimed and highly prolific and cited criminologists in the world

  • Bridges criminology and psychology and academic and lay conceptualizations of psychopathy

  • Offers a fresh thesis that shows the ability of psychopathy to explain all forms of conduct problems from early childhood through late adulthood


Part of the Palgrave's Frontiers in Criminology Theory book series (FCRT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Matt DeLisi
    Pages 97-131
  3. Matt DeLisi
    Pages 133-170
  4. Matt DeLisi
    Pages 171-196
  5. Matt DeLisi
    Pages 225-236
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 237-243

About this book


This book applies the psychopathy concept toward the understanding of crime. Drawing on hundreds of studies and his own clinical, research, and practitioner experience working with the most antisocial and violent offenders, the author demonstrates that psychopathy can explain all forms of crime across the life course, and also examines the biosocial foundations of the disorder. With an abundance of case studies and historical references, written in a distinctive writing style, the book is equally fascinating to the academic scholar and the true crime buff alike.


Psychopathy crime violence psychopaths criminal justice genetics neuroscience life course law criminal law criminology forensics penology psychology Psychopath social science society sociology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Criminal Justice StudiesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

About the authors

Matt DeLisi is Coordinator of Criminal Justice Studies, Professor in the Department of Sociology, and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, USA. DeLisi is among the most prolific criminologists in the world with over 300 scholarly publications and is co-founding member of the Biosocial Criminology Research Group. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Criminal Justice, the leading criminology journal in the world, and Fellow of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Bibliographic information


“The construct of psychopathy is essential to the study of crime. DeLisi conveys this importance in an intellectual tour de force that is also fun and lively to read. While you may not agree with all of the points made in the book, they will cause you to reflect and perhaps even to rethink your own cherished views.” (Michael G. Vaughn, Professor of Social Work, Saint Louis University, USA)

“DeLisi crosses disciplinary boundaries to provide a clear and concise introduction to the psychopathy construct.  Written in a manner that makes it accessible to the general reader yet with a depth and breadth of coverage that makes it useful to the seasoned psychopathy researcher, this book offers insight into how psychopathy can potentially advance our understanding of serious criminality.” (Glenn D. Walters, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, USA)

“In this fascinating book, a world leading criminologist goes beyond the myths and media sensationalism to draw a scientific, evidence-based picture of psychopathy as a unified theory of crime. Thanks to its wide and diverse content, the book will be a primary source of information for novice and experienced researchers, practitioners, and students who aim to demystify the concept of psychopathy and related behaviors. ” (Daniel Boduszek, Reader in Criminal Psychology, University of Huddersfield, UK)