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NCJ Number: 210378 Find in a Library
Title: Construct of Psychopathy and Its Potential Contribution to the Study of Serious, Violent, and Chronic Youth Offending
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:3  Issue:3  Dated:July 2005  Pages:235-252
Author(s): Michael G. Vaughn; Matthew O. Howard
Date Published: July 2005
Page Count: 18
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After examining the construct of psychopathy, this article considers its potential for enhancing the current understanding of serious, violent, and chronic (SVC) juvenile offending.
Abstract: Although many definitions of psychopathy have been composed, most profile psychopaths as individuals (mostly male) who are aggressive, self-centered, callous, guiltless, impulsive, sensation-seeking, interpersonally exploitive, deceptive, low in fear and anxiety, and unable to learn socially approved ways of satisfying immediate needs and develop reciprocal bonds of intimacy with others. Regarding juvenile psychopathy, further clinical and preclinical research on psychopathy is warranted, given that the construct may provide a means to detect SVC offenders early in their lives. Such research should focus on the relative stability of psychopathy characteristics over time and the reliability and validity of existing assessment instruments. Also, symptoms of psychopathy must be distinguished from behavioral and personality characteristics of normal adolescent development. An overview of major etiological theories of psychopathy addresses frontal lobe dysfunction, lateralization theory, behavioral inhibition and activation brain systems, low fear, latent-trait theories in mainstream criminology, and alcohol and drug abuse. In a discussion of issues to be addressed in a conceptual framework for psychopathy, a distinction is drawn between psychopathy and sociopathy. Psychopathy may have an earlier age of onset in offending; display greater criminal versatility and verbal and physical aggression; and persist longer than antisocial behavior in nonpsychopathic youth. The current state of research on the construct of psychopathy as applied to juvenile offenders, although promising, is not sufficiently advanced to be used systematically in assessment and intervention; however, screening young offenders for psychopathy and other mental health disorders can improve the treatment and social control of antisocial youth. 1 table and 106 references
Main Term(s): Violent juvenile offenders
Index Term(s): Habitual offenders; Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile delinquency prevention; Mental disorders; Mental illness-crime relationships; Psychopaths; Serious juvenile offenders
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