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Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality

5. The Language of Psychopaths

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In this fifth module, we think about the language of psychopaths, focusing in particular on: (i) understanding the difference between presenting abnormal behaviours in response to specific things, and demonstrating more comprehensive abnormality in behaviour; (ii) the definition of a psychopath; (iii) Hancock’s 2011 study looking specifically at murderers; (iv) characteristics and language traits of psychopaths when discussing themselves; (v) the complexity of psychopathy and how it can present problems with all types of social interactions.


This course, by Dr Ayoub Bouguettaya (University of Birmingham), explores the concepts of abnormality, phobias, and psychopathy. In the first module, we define abnormality and discuss how social norms, adequate functioning, harm to others, and statistical prevalence play a role in understanding it as a concept. In the second module, we consider the characteristics of phobias and how we define them as abnormal. We then look at learning explanations for the acquisition of phobias, before moving on to think about behavioural explanations and treatments. In the fifth module, we discuss how psychopathy presents itself as an expression of abnormality across a breadth of social interactions, and how that can be reflected in language. The sixth and final module summarises the content from the course and reflects on how this can inform our understanding of these concepts going forward.


Dr Ayoub Bouguettaya is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. His research centres around social psychology and how knowledge from that field can be applied to others, particularly health. Dr Bouguettaya is interested in how we can apply social identity theory to societal problems, as well as investigating the different perspectives one might taken on those issues. His recent publications have spanned a breadth of topics including social identification, eating behaviours, conspiracy theories, and behavioural economics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bouguettaya, A. (2022, February 16). Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality - The Language of Psychopaths [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bouguettaya, Ayoub. "Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality – The Language of Psychopaths." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Feb 2022,

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