Karpman (1948) was likely the first person to put the term “psychopath” into sub-categories; primary psychopathy and secondary psychopathy. The two sub- categories are similar in that they both involve elevated levels of antisocial and criminal behavior. Primary psychopathy and secondary psychopathy differ in their underlying causes. Superficial sexual relations, manipulative behavior, complete lack of remorse, and negative affect to fear and anxiety are characteristics of a primary psychopath, while, secondary psychopaths begin life with the ability to have a normal capacity for appropriate emotions, but as a result of influences in their environment (e.g. trauma, abuse by primary caregivers) they become prone to poorly regulated negative affect that is characterized by high levels of hostility, aggression, and impulsive behavior.
The violence inhibition mechanism (Blair, 1995) proposes that psychopaths fail to experience the sadness and fear of others as something negative. The VIM suggests a dysfunction in the amygdala, which is apart of our neurological system that is responsible for processing our emotions. A study by Montage et. al (2005) found that participants scoring highly on psychopathic characteristics were significantly less accurate at recognizing the fear facial expression compared to controls.
A study conducted by Predo et. al. (2015) investigated the relationship between psychopathic traits, self- control and facial affect processing. The findings of this study were that primary psychopathy was highly positively correlated with a deficit in recognizing the fear expression, and the ‘happy’ expression posed the least decoding difficulty. Secondary psychopathic traits demonstrated difficulty in identifying the disgust and shame facial displays only. Additionally, secondary psychopathic traits were more significantly associated with reduced self control. With the presented studies suggesting sub- categories of psychopathy, neurologically based affect deficits and defects in self control, rehabilitation programs and may be of better help to individuals.