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Psychopathy traits in adolescents with childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Tom Fowler (a1), Kate Langley (a1), Frances Rice (a1), Naureen Whittinger (a1), Kenny Ross (a2), Stephanie van Goozen (a3), Michael J. Owen (a4), Michael C. O'Donovan (a4), Marianne B. M. van den Bree (a4) and Anita Thapar (a4)...
Abstract
Background

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are thought to be at higher risk of psychopathy. Early biological and social adversity may contribute to this risk.

Aims

To examine psychopathy traits in ADHD.

Method

In a sample of children with ADHD who had reached adolescence, total psychopathy and ‘emotional-dysfunction’ scores (e.g. callousness, lack of affect) were assessed using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Youth Version.

Results

A total of 156 (79%) eligible families participated. Total psychopathy and emotional-dysfunction scores were elevated in comparison to published UK norms but none scored in the clinical range for psychopathy. Adjusting for associated conduct problems, total psychopathy scores were associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy, emotional-dysfunction scores were associated with birth complications, and neither was associated with family adversity.

Conclusions

Children with ADHD show psychopathy traits but are not ‘psychopaths’. Early adversity, indexed by pre- or perinatal adversity but not family factors, appears to be associated.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Anita Thapar, Department of Psychological Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK. Email: thapar@cf.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

Janssen-Cilag funded T.F. for 1 year.

Footnotes
References
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Psychopathy traits in adolescents with childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Tom Fowler (a1), Kate Langley (a1), Frances Rice (a1), Naureen Whittinger (a1), Kenny Ross (a2), Stephanie van Goozen (a3), Michael J. Owen (a4), Michael C. O'Donovan (a4), Marianne B. M. van den Bree (a4) and Anita Thapar (a4)...
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