Psychopathy and trauma: Exploring a potential association

Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930, Mann, Sophie, Lewis, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5567-3569, Ozanne, Rebecca, McNeill, Kimberley and Ireland, Carol Ann orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7310-2903 (2020) Psychopathy and trauma: Exploring a potential association. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 69 . p. 101543. ISSN 0160-2527

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This research presents a series of linked studies exploring the association between psychopathy and trauma. It comprises a systematic review (n = 58), followed by an expert Delphi (n = 19), and patient file trawl using a male forensic psychiatric patient sample (n = 66). An association between psychopathy and developmental trauma was predicted. It was further predicted that different types of trauma would be associated with different subtypes of psychopathy and that the severity of trauma would be important. The systematic review identified the following core themes: presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or symptoms; trauma type; trauma/abuse variables; and sex differences. The ensuing Delphi study indicated the specific variant of psychopathy to be important, with secondary psychopathy particularly relevant. The final study found that the severity of developmental trauma related differentially to primary and secondary psychopathy. Implications and directions for future research are discussed, most notably with regards to the conceptualisation of psychopathy.

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