Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Clarifying the Link Between Childhood Abuse History and Psychopathic Traits in Adult Criminal Offenders

Childhood abuse is a risk factor for the development of externalizing characteristics and disorders, including antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. However, the precise relationships between particular types of childhood maltreatment and subsequent antisocial and psychopathic traits remain unclear. 

Using a large sample of incarcerated adult male criminal offenders (n = 183), the current study confirmed that:

  • severity of overall childhood maltreatment was linked to severity of both psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. 
  • Moreover, this relationship was particularly strong for physical abuse and the antisocial facet of psychopathy. 
  • Sexual abuse history was uniquely related to juvenile conduct disorder severity, rather than adult psychopathy or antisocial behaviors. 
  • Additionally, there was a significantly stronger relationship between childhood maltreatment and juvenile conduct disorder than between childhood maltreatment and ASPD or psychopathy. 

These findings bolster and clarify the link between childhood maltreatment and antisocial behavior later in life. 

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