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A comprehensive literature review on adolescent psychopathy

12 December 2003


Because there is insufficient evidence that adult psychopathy is treatable, there is a growing interest in the development of psychopathy in children and adolescents in search of possible preventative and early interventions. Additionally, an increase in adolescents involved in criminal activity has also contributed towards this interest. Presently, there is much research on adult psychopathy; however, there is less research with child and adolescent psychopathy. The current literature review integrates studies of adolescent psychopathy into a coherent understanding of the state of research in this area. The present literature review first focuses on a controversial debate among prominent researchers in the field on how psychopathy manifested in adolescence should be conceptualized and assessed, with all researchers in agreement that psychopathy is on a continuum. Following the debate, the existence of a link between psychopathy and adolescents is explored. The next section delves into possible causes of adolescent psychopathy as conceptualized and operationalized by Hare. Then, past and present assessment instruments are examined for their reliability and validity in accurately assessing for adolescent psychopathy among diverse gender, race, and settings. Next, modes of interventions in treating adolescent psychopathy and treatment outcome are examined. Immediately following, the paper explores to what extent the concept of adolescent psychopathy can be applied to or generalized across minority adolescent psychopathy populations with the focus on gender and race. Lastly, recommendations for practice in this domain are addressed along with future directions for further research.


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