Date of Award


Document type


Degree Name

Masters theses/dissertations - taught courses

First Supervisor

Dr. John Scally


Neurology, Psychopathy, Psychosurgery, Autonomy, Relational, Authenticity


This paper will first briefly touch on the history of psychopathy as a medical condition and the history of psychosurgery in the modern/scientific era. An alternative classification of the three personality anti-social disorders - psychopathy, sociopathy, and anti-social personality disorder (ASPD) - will be posited in the light of recent neurological and evolutionary based findings.

A current and popular ethical framework, Principlism, will be employed as a guiding tool which may be appropriate to address the dilemma at the heart of the hypothetical case at hand. An alternative approach to resolution of the dilemma, namely the relational methodology, is then put forward for consideration. It is argued that the latter framework leads to a different conclusion, and that, given the more nuanced analysis it allows for, one which can be said to hold greater sway in efforts to resolve the dilemma at hand. It is found that, by considering the roles of autonomy, authenticity, and context, under the ethical framework of Relational Theory, there are stronger arguments in favour of allowing the incarcerated violent psychopath the option of brain alteration as an alternative to long-term incarceration than there are against withholding said option.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

File Size

1.31 MB


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the Masters in Health Care Ethics and Law, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 2016.