Personalidad narcicista

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July/2004

LEGAL MEDICINE JOURNAL

The Official Journal of the Australian college of Legal Medicine VOL 1 No 2

ISSN No. 1444 6529

Editor-In-Chief John Vinen

Assistant Editors Maurice Wallen Noel McCleave Roy Beran Editorial Board International Professor Theodore Le Blanc Professor Bernard Dickens Professor Sjef Gevers Australasian Dr Peter Arnaudon Professor John Deveraux ProfessorLoane Skene The Honerable Michael Kirby Justice Glen Williams Pro Review Panel John Vinen Maurice Wallin Noel McCleave Roy Beran Tony Moynham Sue Crosdale Peter Dwyer John Hilton Cathy Lincoln

Editorial Office Australian College of Legal Medicine PO Box 598 NORTHBRIDGE NSW 1560 Phone: (02) 9402 9565 Fax: (02)9402 9565 Email: aclmadmin@legalmedicine.com.au

The Official Journal of theAustralian college of Legal Medicine VOL 1 No 2

ISSN No. 1444 6529

NARCISSISM, MALIGNANT NARCISSISM AND MURDER (An essay submitted for the Forensic Psychiatry unit of the Sydney Law School’s M.Criminology course)

Andrew Walker, 1994

INTRODUCTION When a particularly horrible murder or series of murders occurs, the spectre of 'Evil' is raised by the community and the criminal justice system,fearful and uncomprehending that such an act could be perpetrated by an individual who is not 'mentally ill' (Prins, 1994): Predominant concern seems to centre around whether evil exists as a separate force - 'out there' - or whether it can only exist, as George Clifford suggested in the 16th century, "in the hearts of men" (A Dialogue on Witches and Witchcraft). The purpose of this composition isto essay an explanation, in terms of present day psychodynamic theory, of apparently inexplicable human behaviour. Implicit in psychodynamic theory is the concept of mental mechanisms operating unconsciously. The term 'psychodynamic' is used synonymously with 'psychoanalytic' - psychoanalytic theory being just that - theory - and not to be confused with the socalled treatment of Psychoanalysis, theefficacy of which is becoming increasingly questioned.

The Official Journal of the Australian college of Legal Medicine VOL 1 No 2

ISSN No. 1444 6529

Two American clinicians, Otto Kernberg and Michael Stone, both psychiatrists, use the term 'malignant narcissism' to encompass the pathological psychological processes which lead individuals who do not suffer from a 'mental illness' tocommit horrific offences. Before discussing their work, it is necessary to essay an overview of the concept of 'personality disorder' and the evolution of the concept of 'narcissism'. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, of the American Psychiatric Association, in its 3 recent editions, viz.,III (1980), III-R[evised] (1987) and IV (1994) [abbreviated hereinafter as DSM-III/IV]is rapidly becoming a benchmark for psychiatrists and lawyers alike. The aim of the Manual is to be 'atheoretical' and descriptive because of the paucity of knowledge of the aetiology of mental disorders. Space precludes a discussion of the meaning of mental/psychiatric, brain/mind and illness/disease/disorder but it must be noted that the Law and Psychiatry frequently use the same term in adifferent way. DSM-III/IV places Personality Disorder in axis II of its multi-axial classification. 'Major' psychiatric illnesses like Schizophrenia, Manic-Depressive Psychosis, Anxiety are axis I diagnoses. The Law has regarded expert psychiatric evidence with regard to personality disorder somewhat variably. The Garry Webb/David case in Victoria (Parker, 1991) revealed discrepancies between Psychiatryand the Law. David was a persistent self-mutilator and had threatened to commit a massacre when released from prison - where he had spent much of his adult life. Psychiatric evidence was that he was not 'mentally ill' under the terms of the current mental health legislation. The response of the Supreme Court Judge was I have a great difficulty coming to terms with the concept that if somebody...
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