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Conduct Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Psychopathy


A repetitive & persistent pattern of seriously antisocial behavior, usually ... Major distinction appears to be in symptomatology. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Conduct Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Psychopathy

Conduct Disorder, Antisocial Personality
Disorder, and Psychopathy
What is conduct disorder?
  • A repetitive persistent pattern of seriously
    antisocial behavior, usually criminal (illegal)
    in nature marked by extreme callousness.
  • Diagnosis is made in individuals under age 18.
  • Behaviors may include (but not limited to)
  • Cruelty toward animals and/or people
  • Vandalism
  • Lying
  • Theft
  • Physical aggressiveness

Conduct Disorder comorbidity
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Substance use disorders (alcohol, marijuana)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression (15-45)

What is prevalence of conduct disorder?
  • Offord colleagues (1987) conducted a study of
    more than 2,500 children in Ontario, Canada.
  • They found that 8 of boys 3 of girls aged
    4-16 met the DSM criteria for conduct disorder.
  • Rates may climb to 16 in boys during
  • Violent crimes, such as rape aggravated assault
    are largely crimes produced by adolescents.
    Activity peaks by age 17 then drops off.

Do kids with conduct disorder become antisocial
  • More than half of children diagnosed with conduct
    disorder do not become antisocial personalities
    in adulthood (Loeber, 1991 Zoccolillo et al.,
  • Males with conduct disorder who had fathers with
    antisocial behavior poor verbal intelligence,
    more likely to develop APD.

Moffitts theory Two courses of conduct
  • 1. Life-course persistent pattern of
    antisocial behavior, beginning with problems by
    age 3 continuing into adulthood.
  • 2. Adolescent-limited normal childhood with
    high levels of antisocial behavior during
    adolescence that does not continue into adulthood.

What are Personality Disorders (Axis II)?
  • These are long-standing, pervasive, inflexible
    patterns of behavior.
  • Usually impair social occupational functioning.
  • Are often comorbid with Axis I disorders (e.g.,
    substance use, depression)
  • Make treating an Axis I disorder more difficult.

What is an Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)?
  • DSM diagnosis
  • 1. The presence of a conduct disorder before
    the age of 15
  • Truancy running away from home
  • Theft compulsive lying
  • Arson vandalism
  • 2. The continuation of this pattern of behavior
    into adulthood.

APD features
  • Irresponsible antisocial behavior
  • Criminality (breaking laws)core feature
  • Irritability
  • Physical aggressiveness
  • Defaulting on debts
  • Impulsivity
  • Pathological lying
  • Lack of remorse Not necessary for diagnosis
  • Prevalence 3 of males 1 of females in U.S.

What is Psychopathy?
  • Core features-
  • Psychopaths lack remorse
  • Poverty of emotions (positive negative)
  • Psychopaths are
  • Superficially charming
  • Pathological liars cheaters
  • Impulsive sensations seekers
  • Manipulative, will change story to fit facts
  • Less responsive to fear/anxiety
  • Immoral
  • Usually men

Psychopaths identified by Hare checklist
  • Two clusters
  • 1. Emotional detachment cluster (a selfish
    remorseless individual with inflated self-esteem
    who exploits others.)
  • 2. Antisocial lifestyle cluster- marked by
    impulsivity irresponsibility.

What is the difference between APD and
  • Major distinction appears to be in
  • Lack of remorse, a core symptom of psychopathy,
    is not required for diagnosis of APD.
  • In one study, 75 to 80 of convicted felons met
    criteria for APD, but failed to meet criteria for

Are psychopaths born or made?
  • Most likely there are components of both that
    account for the development of full fledged

Putative causes of APD psychopathy?
  • 1. Family
  • McCord McCord (1964) concluded that lack of
    affection severe parental rejection may be
    primary causes of psychopathic behavior.
  • Other suspected family related factors are
  • Inconsistencies in discipline or no discipline at
    all, physical abuse, marital discord, substance

2. Both antisocial personalities criminal
behavior have heritable components.
  • Twin Studies
  • 1. Higher concordance rate for MZ twins than for
    DZ twins in APD (Lyons et al., 1995).
  • Adoption Studies
  • 2. Higher rate of antisocial behavior in adopted
    children of biological parents with APD.

3. Fathers behavior
  • Fathers of psychopaths are likely to be
    antisocial personalities themselves!!!!!!

Whats likely to be going on?
  • Child with diathesis for antisocial behavior may
    be difficult to deal with produce environmental
    changes that result in harsh conditions
    (treatment) by family members.
  • This may fuel development of full blown
    antisocial behavior.

Are psychopaths less prone to anxiety than normal
  • Yes!!!
  • Lykken (1957) studied the ability of psychopaths
    controls to avoid shock.
  • Psychopaths were poorer than controls at avoiding
    the shocks, suggesting they are low in anxiety
    compared to controls.

Do psychopaths show less autonomic arousal to
fear eliciting stimuli than controls?
  • Psychopaths show a pattern of autonomic activity
    that suggests they tune out aversive stimuli.
  • Their hearts beat faster than normals when
    anticipating stress, but their skin conductance
    levels are lower than controls in response to
    aversive stimuli.
  • This makes them appear under-aroused when they
    are not.

Startle Blink studies
  • The startle blink response is a good non-verbal
    indicator of emotional state.
  • Magnitude of the startle blink changes with
    emotional state.
  • It increases for a negative emotional state
    decreases for a positive emotional state.

Patrick (1994) Startle blink study
  • Subjects 4 groups of prisoners selected with
    Hare checklist participated.
  • Group 1 nonpsychopaths (low on antisocial
    behavior emotional detachment)
  • Group 2 Detached white collar offenders (high
    only on emotional detachment)
  • Group 3 Antisocial offenders (high only on
    antisocial behavior)
  • Group 4 Psychopaths (high on both factors).

  • Baseline condition- prisoners were presented with
    a visual cue, sometimes with a blast of loud
  • Experimental condition - Ss experienced the
    visual cue were told that when it disappeared
    the loud noise would occur.
  • Both psychopaths detached offenders showed much
    smaller increases in their startle responses,
    indicating that less fear had been aroused.

Do psychopaths show less empathy for distress of
  • Yes!!! Blair coworkers (1997), examined skin
    conductance of psychopaths controls (men) to
    slides of varying images.
  • Ss were shown threatening (guns), neutral (lamp),
    distress-provoking (crying person) slides.
  • The two groups showed the same responses to the
    threatening neutral slides. However,
    psychopaths were less responsive to the distress

  • Psychopaths feel emotions less intensely than
    normal individuals.
  • Psychopaths not under-aroused compared to normal
    Ss, but are better at tuning out unpleasant
  • They lack empathy.