Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Nicholas Papouchis

Committee Chair and Members

Nicholas Papouchis, Chair

Sara Haden

Paul Saks


Disorganized attachment, Dissociation, Mentalization, Psychoanalysis, Psychopathy, Psychopathy Factor 1


Though psychopathy is a construct that garners much attention for its insidious and destructive impact on society, its etiology has been understudied. Conceptualized as being comprised of factor 1 (affective, interpersonal) and factor 2 (behavioral) traits, much existing research focuses on the development of the more easily observable factor 2 traits. Childhood maltreatment and disorganized attachment have been identified as key factors leading to the development of psychopathy. The current study utilized psychodynamic theories to narrow in on additional factors that may influence this relationship, such as mentalization, cognitive empathy, and dissociation, and sought to test them empirically. While all the other variables have been associated with psychopathy, dissociation had yet to be demonstrated as related to psychopathy in an empirical study. A mediation model was hypothesized in a community sample of 217, linking those with experiences of childhood maltreatment and a disorganized attachment style to psychopathy factor 1 traits through a serial mediation of dissociation, mentalization, and cognitive empathy. Among other relevant findings, dissociation, as well as dissociation in conjunction with mentalization, were found to mediate this relationship, representing a significant contribution to the field with implications for diagnosis, treatment, and larger public health practices.