It just got even harder to identify a psychopath

Wednesday 08 April 2015 13:00
Science and Tech

Think psychopaths are always cruel, detached and lacking in empathy? You're wrong.

That's according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology which looked at 150 male and female inmates in juvenile detention centres, aged between 11-17.

The young adults were all classified as at risk of becoming psychopaths or as having psychopathic traits (doctors don't classify teenagers as psychopaths as their personalities are not fully formed) - but the research found that a significant group of those teenagers did not exhibit "classical" traits of psychopathy.

Professor Tim Stickle, who co-authored the research, said some appeared callous and unemotional but were actually distressed or anxious.

He went on: "We think of these harmful, antisocial, aggressive kids as being immune to fear, immune to negative feelings, but in fact we're showing a whole group of them are not only not immune, but are very susceptible."

The research indicates that those classified as being psychopaths or having psychopathic traits, a condition which is seen as untreatable, may be prevented from actually having treatment which would help them live happier lives.

More: Post a lot of selfies? Science says you might have psychopathic traits

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