Personality is a construct that refers to the pattern of thoughts, beliefs, ways of seeing the world and behaviors widely learned throughout the life cycle that are maintained through situations and time.
Some of these patterns are dysfunctional and do not allow correct adaptation to the environment by the subject, causing serious difficulties or causing damage to third parties. The last of the assumptions is what happens with disorders such as antisocial or what we will talk about in this article: sadistic personality disorder, A phenomenon that arouses a lot of interest, to the point that there are countless films about this type of person.
Sadistic personality disorder
It is considered a sadistic personality disorder with a pathological pattern of cruel, vexatious and aggressive behavior that manifests itself continuously throughout life in a consistent manner across situations. As with sexual sadism, the subject feels the enjoyment and satisfaction of the observation of suffering and humiliation other. You can do this by using everything from physical violence to humiliations, lies, and rumors to cause harm, with no specific purpose beyond the pleasure of doing so.
Violence and harassment are often used for the purpose of dominating others just for fun, without the cruelty used being a means of achieving other goals. It is also common for them to be able to impose their will through fear and coercion. They usually control people and they tend to limit the freedom of those around them, especially with those closest to them, as well as an overt fascination with death and violence in general.
It should be noted that this disorder is not limited to a specific person or situation or refers to the mere use of the pain of others as an object of sexual satisfaction (i.e., people who express a sexual sadism do not have to have a sadistic personality), but we are talking about a generalized model of behavior.
Link to crime
It can be easy to attribute the crime to mental and personality disorders, but as a general rule, most of the people who commit crimes (including blood) are people without any psychopathological disorder. Keep in mind that while we are talking about people who appreciate the humiliation and pain of others, it does not imply that they will commit any crime.
However, the prevalence of this disorder and psychopathy is higher in certain types of crimes: this is what happens with many serial killers. In other cases, the prevalence is much lower, but sometimes in some studies of inmate populations, it may be found that some of the subjects who commit abuse / assault or sexual abuse exhibit typical traits of this disorder.
Despite this, it must be emphasized that suffering from this disorder does not necessarily induce crime, in fact being most individual criminals with no mental or personality pathology, contrary to popular belief.
Although the possible causes of this disorder are still unknown, as a personality disorder, the origin of sadistic personality disorder lies in the interaction of biological temperament with experience and the environment.
In this regard, it is proposed that in many cases it can come in part from biochemical and brain elements (Areas of the brain such as the limbic system and the brain reward system) and learning may be involved, such as in situations of domestic violence or continuous sexual or physical abuse throughout the subject’s life. learned by modeling. and associated with power and / or pleasure.
Lack of information and current situation
However, there are doubts about its existence as a personality disorder: while it is clear that there are people with sadistic attitudes as with some psychopaths, there is not enough evidence to fully characterize this type of disorder and even to determine whether we are really dealing with a personality disorder that is different and separable from the existing disorders.
Diagnostic classifications particularly focus on behavior without delving into emotional and cognitive aspects. Further research is needed in this regard in order to get more data. Still listed by DSM-III and Millon as a personality disorder, currently sadistic personality disorder is listed as a diagnostic category proposed for research and collection in the appendices of the large diagnostic manual for classification of disorders. mental states, the DSM.
Link to psychopathy and antisocial disorders
Although at first glance you can see that antisocial disorder psychopathy and sadistic personality disorder are closely related (In fact, in many cases they agree on the same subject), these are classifications that are not synonymous.
In all three cases, a dominant attitude is shared and in which they often commit deceptions and rights violations to achieve their goals, often with lack or difficulty of empathy and remorse.
However, obtaining pleasure and satisfaction from the suffering and domination, which are at the heart of this disorder, absolutely defines neither the psychopath (not all psychopaths are sadists) nor the subject with antisocial disorder. Likewise, a subject can be sadistic without mocking or violating social norms or laws, which is odd in antisocial personality disorder.
- American Psychiatric Association (2002). DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Spanish edition. Barcelona: Masson. (Original in English from 2000).
- American Psychiatric Association (1987). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 3rd revised edition (DSM-III-R). Washington DC.
- Cavall, V. (2001). An introduction to personality disorders in the 21st century. Behavioral psychology, 9 (3); 455-469.