Psychopath: A Distraught Criminal Mind by Srasti Tripathi (Intern)

Psychopath: A Distraught Criminal Mind by Srasti Tripathi (Intern)

Eternally hungry, eternally empty, eternally stalking the one thing that makes you human and the one thing they will always lack, they want to consume anima like a double cheeseburger and then discard what’s left of you like an empty fast- food container.’”[1]

                                                   - Thomas Sheridan

A Violent blow of Psychopathy

The terms which are broached in this topic are Psychopath, distraught, criminal and mind. A Psychopathic mind is fabricated from brainsickness and crime. Crime and Brainsickness together gives birth to Felony. To fathom Psychopathy, we must elucidate something about crime and brainsickness.

Many jurists tried to define crime and its distinct aspects but no theory became authenticated due to dynamicity of crime. Crime intrinsically depends upon human society. If we vocalize on the subject society then the primary thing which we will know about it will be its dynamicity. Crime and Society are interrelated with each otherand owing to this interrelation crime is also dynamic that is why certain jurists are of the view that crime cannot be defined in words,  still, we are available with some definitions which administers us with sense of crime.

According to William Blackstone, “it is defined as an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Crime is a violation of public rights and duties due to the whole community considered as community.”[2]

According to Austin, “A wrong which is pursued by the sovereign or his subordinates is a crime.”[3]

But as the time is changing at a faster rate, we cannot just stick to this definition and we need to add different other essential ingredient to this definition to make it meet requirements of definition of today’s increasing crime.

Brainsickness means the appellation, psychosis. “Psychosis is a serious mental illness that can cause a person’s character to change and to make the person unable to behave within the range of what is considered normal.” On a second thought, it comes to knowledge that the very fundamental ingredient which forms crime is mens rea (bad intention or guilty mind). The term ‘Intention’ works as a junction between crime and brainsickness and this only junction can be pronounced as Psychopathy.

Indirectly criminal psychosis is psychopathy. Now the most crucial question upsurges, who are psychopaths? A person with a mental disorder characterized by an extremely antisocial personality that often leads to aggressive, perverted or criminal behavior. The formal medical term used for psychopathy is antisocial personality disorder.” This term has been coined in DSM- IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders) by APA, 1994(American Psychiatric Association). The symptoms of becoming a psychopath are as follows- lack of sympathy, guilt and repentance, impetuous attitude, irresponsibility, etc. The diseases which are covered under Psychopathy are- Schizophrenia, Sex- mania, Panic attacks.Psychopaths are principally of two kinds- Hedonists and Sensualists. The word hedonist is usually used for human beings who are thrill seekers (serial killers) and the word Sensualists is used for the human beings who are pleasure seekers. The impetus behind becoming a psychopath can be elucidated through various theories and some of them are mentioned as follows -

Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939) was an Austrian Neurologist who is the pioneer of psychoanalysis and gave Pleasure Principle or Pleasure- Pain principle, which works as a force to attain the ardour of instant quenching of something such as food, pain, sex, anger etc. and if these urges of human beings are not satisfied at a reasonable time which has been set by their minds for them, then they commence to involve in anger, anxiety, pain, unconsciousness, etc. This force or Pleasure Principle basically leads them towards an anti- social, stubborn and egoistic life. In midst of these deflecting emotions, they perform some acts or omissions which are against public tranquility and these acts are so heinous in nature that they purport to enhance moral turpitude in their psyche. According to Sigmund Freud, there are three elements of personality- Id, Ego and Superego. Id is an element which exists in a human being since his or her birth. Second element is ego which is said to supersede the impact of Id. Here, a human being finds distinct ways to fulfill his or her needs in a positivistic manner. This development of ego is known as Reality Principle. The third and last element of personality is superego which is the real actor to develop a psychopathic human instinct. This instinct upsurges the human etiquette to the stage of heinous crimes particularly to hedonism and sensuality which are the chief aspects of psychopathy.

Yochelson and Samenow[4], they were psychologists by profession who worked for Investigation of Criminal Behavior and have also written a book known as “The Criminal Personality”. These psychologists have directed us with the theory of free will to delineate Criminal Psychology which stated as: The origin of criminal psychology is based on the mindset of the person and the manner they make their findings, they do not act instantly but possess some psychopathic instincts from the very young age, they do possess an impulsive, anguish and sometimes fearful character, they are always found in search of sympathy from society or some particular person and because of aforesaid traits in lieu of going for morality, they willfully initiates walking on the path of crime.

Kohlberg[5], he was the first person to study psychopathic behavior in young generation. He also opined that psychopaths show pre- conventional moral reasoning which means that there is a restraint in their moral development and primarily due to bad life experiences.

Following are some theories of Crime which have provided us with an overview of reasons behind commissions of crimes by human beings and specifically which studies the reasons behind psychopathy.

Social Disorganization Theory: This Theory has been given by Chicago School. It was worked mainly by Robert. E. Park[6] and Ernest Burgess. It tells that the mental and physical behavior is determined by his or her social surroundings. If he or she has ragged social atmosphere then there will be wariness of criminal attitude in that person.

Strain Theory: This Theory was given by Robert Merton[7]. This theory is of the view that people sometimes have indistinguishable yearning but not all have similar capabilities to achieve those yearning and these aspirations are sometimes based on society’s expectations and when they fail to complete those expectations, they push themselves into the ambit of crime.

Biological Positivism: Biological positivists told that there are sometimes physical or mental traits present in the person which leads him to become an offender.

Labelling Theory: This Theory was given by Howard Becker[8]. Society according to its knowledge decides the criminal status of a person and once a person is labeled as criminal, society initiates snatching all of his opportunities, respect, social status etc. This negative attitude of society further takes that person in the line of more heinous crimes.

Conflict Theory: The word conflict which is mentioned here talks about tensions between two social classes. It is the well-known fact that capitalist societies always suppresses poor classes, this creates a condition of conflict between them and due to this continuous suppression, a person becomes criminal.

Laying out Hedonism

The word Hedonism has been derived from Ancient Greek Vocabulary used for pleasure. Hedonism is the belief of a person that pleasure is the most significant thing in one’s life. Hedonism is of two kinds: Psychological Hedonism and Ethical Hedonism. Hedonism is actually under two principles which are pain and pleasure. If we go through the relation between Rational Choice Theory of Criminology and Hedonism then we will get to know that in the theory also psychopaths measure their pleasure and pain and in Hedonism psychopaths weigh their maximum pleasure and minimum amount of pain and then they choose the type of crime to commit. This interrelation among both Rational Choice Theory and Hedonism is pronounced as Hedonistic Calculus. So, Hedonistic Calculus is basically the idea of gaining pleasure through thrill and subtracting pain.

Psychopaths in the cradle of past events

If we travel in the past of psychopathy then we will come to know about a name called Philippe Pinel[9]. He was the first person who distinguished between psychosis and psychopathy. Both the ailments have very different symptoms. German Psychiatrist, J.L.A. Koch (1841- 1908) proposed the term psycho- pastiche or psychopath in 1888. Koch was of the view that distraught criminal attitude takes place in one’s mind since his or her birth and because of this constitutional psychopathy became known to the public at large. By the 1920, various psychiatric departments initiated using the word psychopathy to include these kinds of people. If we talk about the history of psychopathy in India then we will come to know that in India there is not any deep research on psychopathy neither by any jurist nor by any Indian psychiatrist. Charakawho was an Ayurveda’s specialist in Ancient India contributed something on Psychopathy. He is also known for his medical treatise, “CharakaSamhita.” He opined the Triguna theory to psychopathic situations and said that human being’s nature is explained by three qualities; Satvik which means Consciousness, Rajsik means Energy and Tamsik means Inertia. In Indian Criminal history there are neither any legislations enacted for psychopaths nor any judicial decisions given keeping in mind the mental condition of the psychopaths. If we go some more deep in the history of application of psychopathic criterion say in 19th century. For instance- In Dandupalya Krishna Case[10], the person named Krishna was the leader of a gang across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. They used to kill people specifically with crowbar and the official numerals of victims were forty- two. The statements of members of that gang were like: “I like to hear the last sounds of life draining away.”[11] All the members of that gang were declared guilty and were sentenced to death in 1999 without providing them any psychopathic clinical treatment.

The neck of the woods of psychopaths in Criminal Justice System

The Criminal Justice System has neglected Psychopathy from initiation. The law has considered both psychopathic criminals and non- psychopathic criminals to be similar. But there is a difference between good people who commit crime, mad people who commit crime and bad people who commit crime.

Psychopaths under USA Criminal Justice System

If we talk in legislations then earlier there was no legislation in relevance to psychopathy but in 1953 the American Law Institute adopted Caveat Paragraph in their insanity definition which exclusively excluded psychopaths. In the Caveat Paragraph, the word mental disorder mentioned there did not include distraught mind in relation with repeated criminal actions. In United States of America, there was drafted Modern Penal Code in 1962 to provide a base to their Criminal laws. The Modern Penal Code had also adopted the Caveat Paragraph and the States which had adopted Modern Penal Code, also adopted the definition of insanity mentioned in it. At that point of time Federal Courts in USA were also working on the concept of Caveat Paragraph. Then in 1984 an act came named, Insanity Defense Reform Act, 1984 and it had not included anything as such in Caveat Paragraph in regard to Psychopaths. But the thing which is to be concentrated is that after enacting and adoption of this Act there was not reported any case or judgment since a very long time. The objective of making psychopathy an excuse was not fulfilled and became a dead letter for a very long time.

Psychopaths under locale of Indian Criminal Justice System

The felons who have committed dreadful crimes under mental ailments should be primarilychecked that their ailments and extent of ailments come under psychopathy or not through a psychologist. After observing each and every instinct of that person he or she shall be convicted for the offence he has been charged with and it should be known that these accused are victims to their own mental disorders. All the lawmakers, judges, advocates, police officers and doctors necessitates to understand the distinction between psychopathic criminals and non- psychopathic criminals. Till now, large number of cases has been reported in India such as serial killings, brutal rapes and many other violent crimesbut they have been judged as regular criminal cases. There is neither any separate statute made by legislation in respect of psychopaths nor any judicial decision specifying their medical situation. The only remedy available in Indian Criminal Justice System is mentioned in Section 84 of Indian Penal Code which is also available only in the matter of insanity or unsoundness of mind which is acceptable on the basis of M’ Naughten Case[12] of United Kingdom. In this case, DanialM’ Naughten was alleged to kill Mr. Drummond (private secretary of Prime Minister) in lieu of Sir Robert peel (the then Prime Minister of UK), he did it in the thought that he was killing Sir Robert Peel who is the reason of every problem in his life. “Chief Justice Tindol”, acquitted M’ Naughten on grounds of insanity. In this reference the Law Commission of India has provided its forty- second report to continue the acceptance of M’ Naughten Rules. Now the time has come for all the three tiers- Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to take steps regarding psychopathy. These steps will include firstly,toproduce that accused before the competent psychologist and to classify between various mental ailments and proceedings should take place against that accused. Basically, Psychopathy is an undiscovered portion in Indian Judicial System.

There are some cases dealt by Indian Judiciary in which controversial judgments have been passed by the Courts. The most famous criminal case of Psychopathy in India was Nithari Case[13] in which the main accused name was SurendraKoli. In this case, the accused with the sole help of his servant (Mohinder Singh Pandher) was raping and killing young girls and after dismembering all of their body organs and sometimes eating their flesh too. After his arrest he said, “I still have an urge to kill people.”[14] In this case, the accused had clear symptoms of psychopathy and at the commencement of the case it was proved also but later in the judgment, this condition of accused was not taken as relevant factor in his defense and he was sentenced to capital punishment.

Similarly in the case of Thug Behram[15], this person had killed 931 people in as reported. He used to murder people with his ceremonial cloth. For the offence, he was sentenced to capital punishment in 1840. No one has turned the facets of the case and tried to analyze his psychopathic condition.

In another criminal case of Auto Shankar[16]where the accused Shankar had also been called as Indian Serial Killer. He had killed thirteen people in almost two years in a particular way and burnt or buried them inside their houses. He was also sentenced to death by the Court in 1989.

The dirt of Pornography is enough to stick a person to walls of prison for violent sexual offences

Pornography has a lot to do with psychopathy. Generally, people who are more indulged in Pornography have more chances to become a sensualist, a kind of psychopathy. Pornography also leads a person towards sadism. Sadist is a person who derives pleasure through sexual gratification and even that sexual gratification through pain. The present scrutiny talks about horrendous effects of Pornography on individuals. Pornography turns itself into psychopathy when people commence to derive sexual pleasure through pain of other. In the present time, Pornography has become widespread in the whole social media such as Internet, Magazines etc. It has been strictly analyzed that specifically those people are at high risk of becoming sexually aggressive who are more adhered to pornography. It has also been argued that pornography can increase in percentage probably 20%- 30% in the crowd of rape predators and they will not have any hitch in treating people as sex objects with a violent attitude. The present scrutiny gives gloom- ridden effect of pornography. The junction between pornography and psychopathy works to give rise to Sadism. Even the subjection of porn media to young minds can make them sexual aggressors.

According to Study of Simon[17], mostly college students are being exposed to sexual media so they are at a greater risk than other generations to get collided with such pessimistic sensual behavior.

Individuals with greater sadistic tendency are more involved in sexual crimes. The people who become addicted to pornography have experienced the decreasing cognitive strength of their brain and this decreasing cognitive strength puts them under the fear of becoming psychopaths.As our topic is about relation between psychopathy and pornography so indirectly somewhere it relates to increasing rate of crime. The method to collect criminal samples which have occurred due to pornography is Multidimensional Assessment of Sex and Aggression (MASA). This scale is usually used to measure behavior of person towards pornography. From this scale, there are total five facets which are measured for testing criminality-

·         Subjection of pornography in childhood

·         Extent of violent pornography

·         Stuff related to pornography available with children

·         Stuff related to pornography available with men

·         Stuff related to pornography available with women.

 The Indian Government has banned almost 850 porn websites. This step has been taken after the judgment of Uttarakhand High Court in a Gang Rape case.

In the case, Re: In the matter of incidence of gang rape in a boarding school in Bhauwala, District Dehradun v. State of Uttarakhand[18],  a minor girl was raped in a local school premises and the accused were alleged to have watched pornography together and this reason has been cited why they have raped the girl. The Court had directed to ban around 857 porn websites and in this respect the Court had also referred the Rule 3 (2) (b)[19] of The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. In the aforesaid matter, the High Court had also relied upon sections 67, 67A, 67B and 79 of Information Technology Act, 2000.

Violent attack of drugs on distraught minds drags it towards Criminality

Drug abuse and psychopathy forms a strong bond to give birth criminal activities. Drug abuse gives an upswing to psychopathy and also provokes psychopaths to get indulged in more horrendous and violent criminal activities. A large scale study has found that psychopathic instincts in addition to alcohol or drugs can upsurge the rate of crime. The United States of America suffers from an excessive economic burden of crime reaching to the figure of $3.2 trillion.[20] To minimize this economic burden, there should be crafted some anti- drug substances for the criminals who appears in both the fields of drug abuse and psychopathy also. In comparison between psychopathic criminals and non- psychopathic criminals, study has shown that psychopaths have been more diagnosed with drug abuse symptoms than non- psychopaths. For relating this particular topic of drug abuse and psychopathy to the condition of psychopaths living in prison we must use the subject Recidivism. Basically, Recidivism means reoffending of criminal activities.

Psychopathy and Substance use disorder (SUD)[21] are anticipative of violent crimes and drug crimes and both are responsible for the increase in drug related criminal activities. Now the question is how Drug abuse is related to increasing psychopathic crimes. Drugs actually once enter in person’s body, it initiates controlling all emotional, mental, social and physical mechanisms of that person. Under those circumstances, that person becomes unable to judge that the act which he is committing or going to commit is good or bad and due to upliftment of aforesaid tendency, violent crimes and recidivisms take place. So this is how Drug Abuse and psychopathy are interrelated with each other and upsurges a new perspective of crime.

Final Argumentation in favor of Psychopaths

Some people say that psychopaths are criminally responsible but not morally, some other said that they bare both criminal as well as moral responsibility of their violent act. Many people even fail to distinguish between the words distraught and psychopathy. This needs to be elucidated properly. The conclusion of this paper leads towards the facet of mitigating the liability of psychopaths. On one side our Criminal Justice System has provided capital punishment to these offenders and on the other side the Indian Criminal Justice System mostly gives judgments by keeping in mind of Reformative Theory. Reformative theory is of the view that a criminal can be transformed into law abiding citizen because no one is a criminal since birth, circumstances are responsible for that person to step in criminal environment. In India cases are being registered such as of serial murders, ritual murders, rapes etc. but not by reference of psychopathy but if we read out these cases, it will somewhere pretend to have psychopathic tendencies.

The Stoneman, the name given to him by English print media of Kolkata. The Stoneman had killed thirteen people in just six months in 1989 but the police department failed to have detailed information about him and he was never caught by police. And this incident became an unsolved mystery.[22]

In the case of Raman Raghav, he was a serial killer and a psychopath in Mumbai. He was sentenced to death penalty but when he got detected with the disease named Schizophrenia, his sentence was get reduced to life imprisonment. He was also referred to three psychiatrists of Special Medical Board by Bombay High Court.[23]

In the case of Charles Sobhraj[24], who was also called to be ‘bikini killer’ as many of the victims of accused were found wearing lingerie. He had killed 12 people by giving poison or strangulating. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment but his condition of psychopathy was not recognized.

In the Darbara case, in 2004 he had been arrested for abducting twenty- three children, killing seventeen among them, fifteen girls and two boys. He also raped them after murdering them and this all he confessed by himself. He was sentenced to capital punishment rather providing medical treatment to him.[25]

If we talk about some other country say South Africa, it is also being a developing country, its Criminal Justice System has recognized the psychopathy and circumstances in which psychopaths commit heinous, horrendous and sometimes sensual crimes.

Another developing country which can be referred is Brazil. If we go through legislations of Brazil then under ‘Brazilian Penal Code’, in Article 26 it has been stated that if any accused is mentally ill due to any mental disease or incomplete development of brain to understand the nature of wrongful act then he will not be provided with any penalty. Additionally, Article 96 administers that the accused who is a victim of mental illness should be provided aid in competent psychiatric institution.

In the case of S v. Van De Merwe[26], the Supreme Court of South Africa had given preference to the psychopathic character of the accused and also considered his impulsive behavior at the time commission of murder so the Court set aside the order of death sentence.

Referring the above cited case, it can be said that Indian Criminal Justice System should overcome their Judicial and Legal Lacunas in terms of psychopaths.

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that Indian Criminal Justice System should adopt or provide guidelines in cases of psychopathy. The first step should be taken to provide medical treatment and then proceedings should be initiated against that accused because these types of accused are themselves victims of their mental illness, mental disorders, actions of society etc.


[1]Thomas Sheridan, Quotes about psychopathy, (Last Visited February 21, 2020),
[2]RajniNegi, Nature and Definition of Crime, (Last Visited February 26, 2020),
[3]Glory Nirmala K. and SerkaddisZegeye, The Concept of Crime, (Last Visited February26,2020)
[4]Stanton Samenowand Samuel Yochelson are American Psychologists who works as clinical researchers for the purpose of Investigation of Criminal Behavior. They have co- authored the book ‘The Criminal Personality’.
[5]Lawrence Kohlberg (1927- 1987) was an American psychologist who was known for moral development theories.
[6] Robert Ezra Park (1864- 1944) was an American Sociologist and meant to be most prominent in U.S. Sociology.
[7] Robert King Merton (1910- 2003) was an American Sociologist who was teacher in Columbia University and also bestowed with the rank of University Professor
[8] Howard Saul Becker was an American Sociologist and had given theories on Deviance Sociology, Sociology of Art and Music Sociology.
[9]PhillipePinel (1745- 1826) was a French Physician who was involved in the development of Psychological theory for the care and prevention of psychopathic patients. By some people he was also known to be father of modern psychiatry.
[10]Krishna v. State of Karnataka, Cr. A. No. 538/ 2014 with Cr. A. No. 1322/ 2018
[11]PriyaSepaha, Psychopaths: An unrevealed area in Indian Judicial System, (Last visited March 2, 2020)
[12] Justice KT Thomas, and MA Rashid, Ratanlal and Dhirajlal, (36th Edition, 2019)
[13]Koli v. State of U.P., Cr. A. No. 2227 with S.L.P. (Cri) No. 608 of 2010, 15-2-2011
[14]Supra 14.
[15] Wyatt Redd, The terrifying Thugs of India that would put any of today’s gang to shame, (Last Visited March 2, 2020)
[16]Auto Shankar, (Last Visited March 2, 2020),
[17]William Simon (1930- 2000) was a sociologist on human sexuality. He had also co- authored a book named, ‘Sexual Conduct: The social sources of human conduct.’
[18]Boarding School in Bhauwala, District Dehradun v. State of Uttarakhand, Writ Petition (PIL) No. 158 of 2018
[19] Due diligence to he observed by intermediary — The intermediary shall observe followingdue diligence while discharging his duties, namely : —Such rules and regulations, terms and conditions or user agreement shall inform theusers of computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information thatis grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever
[20]Front. Hum. Neurosci., Psychopathic traits modulate brain responses to drug cues in incarcerated offenders, (Last visited February 29, 2020)
[21] Psychopathy, Substance Use, and Drug Related Crime, (Last Visited February 29, 2020),
[22]RitujayGhosh, The elusive stoneman of Kolkata, (Last Visited March 2, 2020),
[23]YashKasotiya, All you need to know about Raman Raghav, (Last Visited March 2, 2020)
[24]Charles Sobhraj v. State, IIAD (1996) (Delhi) 550
[25]Jalandhar, Serial Baby Killer held, (Last Visited March 2,2020),
[26]S v. Merwe, ZASCA (1994) 73