Pathological Altruism

Brent E. Turvey

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI:
Pathological Altruism

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Pathological altruists engage in maladaptive self-sacrificing behavior that can cause harm to themselves and others. Consequently, pathological altruism may be found in association with criminal behavior. Behavioral scientists (psychologists, sociologists, and criminologists) working for or in association with the criminal justice system have an obligation to understand what it is, what it can mean, and how to identify it when encountered in casework. Pathological altruism may be viewed as a manifestation of cognitive distortions resulting from genetic, chemical, environmental, or developmental factors acting alone or in concert. This chapter proposes a behavioral typology identifying the four major types of pathological altruism: protective, defensive, masochistic, and malignant, each having both psychotic and nonpsychotic incarnations. They will be defined, discussed, and elucidated with case examples.

Keywords: cognitive distortion; defensive altruism; malignant altruism; masochistic altruism; metacognitive dissonance; pathological altruism; protective altruism; pseudoaltruism; psychosis

Chapter.  7807 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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