The focus on mental disorder also directs the searchlight of forensic psychiatry towards individual criminal acts or towards patterns of criminal behaviors occurring in individuals rather than to crime as a societal or group phenomenon. For a number of questions, this is too narrow a perspective.
The capacity to empathize and act compassionately shows not only a constitutional inter-individual variation but also an intra-individual variation in partially state-dependent actual functioning (cf. Constantino & Todd, 2003; Gabbard, 2004). Each and every one of us may stop forming meta-representations of the other’s mind, the ordinary household quarrel being just as good an example as more dramatic scenes of conflict.
A person who commits a heinous crime on his own is more likely to differ from the normal variation on at least some mental features than someone taking part in a similar crime as part of a group of offenders. Even small groups may release dynamics that deprive their members of inhibitory forces. A mathematical hypothesis to predict an individual’s actual capacity for empathy (E) would assume that his or her natural capacity for empathy (e) should be divided by the square root of the number of people (n) involved and interacting in the actual act.