Psychopathy Unpacked

A seminar with Professor Robert Snowden
London, 11 March 2015 (Wednesday)

6:00PM – 9:00PM
Ambassadors Bloomsbury,12 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HX 

As therapists, we work with behavioural disturbance manifestations in clients, reduced capacities for remorse, poor behavioural controls, antisocial behaviour and violent tendencies – all or some of which characteristics may have pathological causes. It is challenging however, to comprehend these as severe representations of Personality Disorders, even when the manifestations appear strongly resistant to therapy. Recent advances in neuropsychology and brain imaging have shown how genetic and environmental dispositions can separately contribute to psychopathy.


At this thoughtful and practical seminar, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, psychologists, CBT practitioners and counsellors, Professor Robert Snowden draws on his longstanding research in forensic psychology, evidence from neuropsychology and brain imaging studies to build our comprehension of assessment, cognitive dysfunction and underlying brain functions for individuals who are regarded as psychopathic. He elucidates that a dysfunction in the ability to process emotions lies at the heart of psychopathy and explains the implications for effective assessment and management.


Professor Robert Snowden (PhD, Cantab) is a professor at Cardiff University where he teaches and researches in areas of forensic psychology with particular interest in the causes of violence, sexual violence and suicidal behaviours.  He was educated at York University and Cambridge University before working at MIT (USA). He regularly trains professionals on risk assessment procedures (e.g, HCR20) and is a credited Darkstone Trainer for the UK and Europe for the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).  He has published over 100 scientific articles in many areas of psychology, including Prediction of violence and self-harm in mentally disordered offenders, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 71(3), Jun 2003, 443-451 (with Gray, Nicola S.; Hill, Charlotte; McGleish, Andrew; Timmons, David; MacCulloch, Malcom J.) and Forensic psychology: Violence viewed by psychopathic murderers, Nature 423, 497-498 (29 May 2003) (with Nicola S. Gray, Malcolm J. MacCulloch, Jennifer Smith & Mark Morris).


Seminar Schedule


6:00PM: Session 1:

An introduction to Psychopathy


In this first session we look at the some of the definitions of psychopathy and relate these to behavioural findings for violence, behaviours and therapy response.  We consider how psychopathy should be assessed and briefly consider the recent controversies in this area.  We also consider the idea of the ‘white-collar‘ psychopath.


6:45PM: Session 2: Cognitions and Emotions


Following on from the first session, we look at theories that suggest a dysfunction in the ability to process emotions lies as the heart of psychopathy.  We will ‘unpack‘ this idea and look at some of the evidence for this position.  We then examine what it means for clients and its implications for assessment and management.


7:30PM: Coffee Break


7:45PM: Session 3: Genetic & Environmental factors
Consolidating the learnings from the previous sessions, we revisit the debate: are psychopaths born or made?  We cover the evidence for a genetic contribution and for an environmental contribution to this disorder.  We examine recent evidence from neuropsychology and brain imaging studies and again consider the implications for our work.


9:00PM: Close