The Social Deviance Aspects of “Poor Behavioural Controls”


The Social Deviance Aspect of “Poor Behavioural Controls”

In this article I look at Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) for understanding the social deviance aspects of the psychopathic behaviours that have a destructive impact on victims, especially their “poor behavioural controls”.


The characteristics of poor behavioural controls, according to Hare, refer to violent, damaging or reactionary behaviour that is not controlled, such as expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression and verbal abuse, inadequate control of anger and temper, and acting hastily, even when the consequences may be harmful to them personally.

The psychopath’s inhibitory controls are weak, leaving them highly reactive to perceived insults or slights.  Whenever they are narcissistically injured they will react badly.

Their wicked, explosive tempers, and verbal and aggressive outbursts are common. Often their attacks are sudden and unprovoked; one moment they are laughing, the next moment they are throwing you to the ground (physically or metaphorically speaking).

It may have been something you said or something they imagined you said. It does not take much provocation to send them into attack mode.  Psychopaths are short-tempered and hot headed, and once they are in a rage, it is as if they fail to consider any consequences. Their modus operandi is to act first and think later.

Unfortunately, pathological narcissists are especially sensitive to feeling shame, therefore shame-proneness is an abiding problem. Whenever their shame-proneness is triggered (whether real or imagined), it will most likely result in a spontaneous irrational and uncontrollable rage where others are bound to get badly hurt (Disproportional Reactions).

The pathological narcissist’s normal reaction to any insult, hurt or slight to their ego is to explode into a chronic and vengeful dissociative rage. When reaching this dissociative state, they will become totally insensitive to and unaware of the damage they do to their victim.

They will rage whenever they feel unseen, misunderstood, unappreciated, and especially so when their victim fails to mirror the desired admiration that they crave.  Their rage is likely to be totally uncontrolled and irrational, and way out of proportion to the situation that provoked it.

But their outbursts are generally short lived, and they quickly resume back to acting as if nothing unusual had happened, leaving their victim in tatters, confused and very afraid.

Of course, they never take responsibility for their actions, and because it is always the other person’s fault, there is no need for them to feel any sense of shame, guilt or remorse.




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Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
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