Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health

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Volume 6 Issue 3 (September 1996), Pages 199-296

Psychopathy and violent behaviour in abused and neglected young adults (pages 253-271)


The interrelationships among early childhood victimisation, psychopathy and violence were examined in a sample of previously abused and neglected individuals (n = 652) and a matched control group (n = 489). Measures of psychopathy, assessed utilising Hare's Psychopathy Checklist (PCL‐R), and violence (based on official arrest and self‐report information) were included in a series of multivariate analyses. Victims of childhood abuse and/or neglect had significantly higher PCL‐R scores than persons in a matched control group, despite controls for demographic characteristics and criminal history. PCL‐R scores predicted official and self‐reported violence. Childhood victimisation was a significant predictor of violence; however, when PCL‐R scores were introduced, childhood victimisation was no longer significant. Findings demonstrate a clear connection between early childhood victimisation and psychopathy and suggest that the relationship between childhood victimisation and violence in some individuals may be mediated through psychopathy. A number of potential mechanisms are suggested to explain these linkages. Copyright © 1996 Whurr Publishers Ltd.

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