New insights on psychopathic traits in youth: Assessment, profiling and treatment

New insights on psychopathic traits in youth: Assessment, profiling and treatment

New insights on psychopathic traits in youth: Assessment, profiling and treatment

Symposium95Diana Ribeiro da Silva, University of Coimbra, Portugal; Daniel Rijo, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Room 2CWed 14:00 - 15:30

Research in adults has described different profiles of psychopathy in an attempt to delineate similarities and differences among constellations of psychopathic traits. Although such research in adolescents is limited, it is crucial as it can increase our understanding of youth psychopathic profiles and their associated risk/protective factors and etiology, as well as inform the development of tailored youth interventions. To assess these traits, the first presentation presents a new Flemish version of the Elemental Psychopathy Assessment (SF). The second presentation uses a person-centered approach to delineate different profiles in terms of delinquent behavior, internalizing symptoms, substance use and victimization, also arguing that these profiles might be related to different etiological precursors. The third presentation corroborates on this and reveals that psychopathic profiles indeed differed on evolutionary variables, highlighting their importance for treatment. The final presentation then specifically focuses on treatment, showing evidence for a new program for youth psychopathic traits.

Presentation 1: How different psychopathic severity profiles of forensic male youth differ on evolutionary relevant variables.

A new wave of research is interested in understanding how psychopathy could be seen as a useful heritage for people who have been raised in harsh rearing environments. Although some research using variable-centered methods already tested this hypothesis, to the best of our knowledge, there is a lack of person-centered approaches to compare how different psychopathic severity profiles differ on evolutionary relevant variables. This study aimed to contribute to a better understanding of psychopathy within an evolutionary framework. A latent profile analysis (LPA) based on the three-factor model of the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory-Short (YPI-S) was performed with a forensic sample of 459 male adolescents. Significant mean differences on evolutionary relevant variables across profiles were also tested using the modified BCH and the DCAT methods. Results revealed the existence of three psychopathic severity profiles: a low psychopathic traits profile, an average psychopathic traits, and a high psychopathic traits profile. The psychopathic profiles differed on evolutionary relevant variables including early warmth and safeness experiences, traumatic shameful experiences, shame, shame coping strategies, and subclinical paranoid ideation. Results are discussed within an evolutionary framework, highlighting the importance of considering evolutionary variables in the conceptualization and treatment of youth with conduct problems.

Presentation 2: Changeability of psychopathic traits and disruptive behavior in a juvenile detainee after the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program
There is a long debate whether psychopathic traits are treatable or not. However, there are few studies focused on the treatment of psychopathic traits, especially in samples of young offenders. More problematic, is the absence of intervention programs specifically tailored to the intervention needs of young offenders with psychopathic traits. To overcome this gap in the literature and gathering theoretical, empirical, and clinical practice insights, a research team developed the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP, which is a 20-session individual intervention program based on Compassion Focused Therapy (an evolutionary based approach) that was specifically designed to reduce psychopathic traits and antisocial behavior among young offenders by developing a compassionate motivation in these youth. This clinical case study presents the treatment process of a juvenile detainee with Conduct Disorder (severe, childhood-onset type), a high psychopathic profile, and a very high risk for criminal recidivism using the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program. The treatment outcome data showed a significant reduction in psychopathic traits and disruptive behavior in this youth. The treatment gains were maintained increased over time (3 months after program completion). This clinical case study demonstrates the feasibility and efficacy of the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program in reducing psychopathic traits and disruptive behavior in a juvenile detainee.

Assessment and treatment of young and/or adolescent offenders
psychopathic traits
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