Childhood and adolescent psychopathy

Authored by: Olivier F. Colins , Henrik Andershed

Routledge International Handbook of Psychopathy and Crime

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138085169
eBook ISBN: 9781315111476
Adobe ISBN:


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Researchers should reconsider using the entire psychopathy construct for identifying and studying the etiology, stability, and prognosis of children and adolescents with a putative psychopathic personality. Our ideas and enthusiasm for furthering the study of psychopathic personality are greatly based upon earlier work, including the work that instigated the focus on callous–unemotional traits. We want to emphasize that we will have no problem learning that research will eventually show that it is indeed sufficient to solely rely on callous–unemotional traits to identify children and adolescents with a putative psychopathic personality. Such an evidence base increases confidence that studies that focus on callous–unemotional traits and use fascinating and expensive techniques (e.g., MRI, epigenetics, and psychophysiology) are indeed highly informative for the study of the youth psychopathy personality, which is still defined as a constellation of co-occurring traits. Finally, great caution is needed when using the term “psychopathic personality”; for now, we recommend only using this label for research purposes and not yet in applied work, especially when dealing with young children.

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