Some critical considerations in applying the construct of psychopathy to research and classification of childhood disruptive behavior disorders

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The recent inclusion of callous-unemotional traits in the diagnostic criteria for serious conduct problems has led to renewed interest in more comprehensive integrations of the construct of psychopathy into research and clinical classification of childhood disruptive behavior disorders. There have been a number of recent reviews of research focusing the many potential benefits for this integration. However, there are also a number of issues that could reduce these benefits and even potentially lead to harmful effects. The current paper focuses on several of these issues, some of which are common when attempting to integrate research findings across areas that have been conducted independently of each other. Other issues are more specific to the construct of psychopathy. Specifically, the current paper focuses on the lack of agreement on the necessary and sufficient dimensions needed to define psychopathy, the need to consider developmental relationships among these dimensions, the implications of the different associations among the dimensions of psychopathy with conduct problems in children and adolescents, the need to consider how these dimensions relate to existing constructs used in the classification of disruptive behavior disorders, and the potential harmful effects of labeling something "a dimension of psychopathy". These issues have several clear implications for using the construct of psychopathy to guide research on and diagnostic classification of childhood disruptive behavior disorders.

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Clinical psychology review

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