Callous and unemotional traits

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Callous and unemotional traits (CU) are distinguished by a persistent pattern of behavior that reflects a disregard for others, and also a lack of empathy and generally deficient affect. The interplay between genetic and environmental risk factors may play a role in the expression of these traits as a conduct disorder (CD).

A CU specifier has been included as a feature of conduct disorder in the fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).[1]

Classification[edit]

A CU specifier for conduct disorder was added to DSM-5.[1] The addition "with significant callous-unemotional traits" to the conduct disorder diagnosis in DSM-5 is to classify a specific subgroup of antisocial youth with distinguishing antisocial behaviors and psychopathic traits.[2] The provision of the CU specifier for CD youth is claimed to improve the diagnostic power, treatment options, and increase the understanding life-course outcomes.[2] A 2008 review concluded that CU did not have the required evidence base to be included as a new diagnosis in DSM-5.[3]

Symptoms[edit]

Children with CU traits have distinct problems in emotional and behavioral regulation that distinguish them from other antisocial youth and show more similarity to characteristics found in adult psychopathy.[4] Antisocial youth with CU traits tend to have a range of distinctive cognitive characteristics. They are often less sensitive to punishment cues, particularly when they are already keen for a reward.[5] CU traits are positively related to intellectual skills in the verbal realm.[6]

Causes[edit]

Neural mechanisms[edit]

The fearlessness theory of CU traits suggests that low amounts of cortisol lead to underarousal, causing impairments in fear processing, a trait seen in CU individuals.[7] Hypoactivity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in combination with CU traits seem to cause antisocial behavior even without external hardships.[7]

Genetic[edit]

Twin studies have found CU traits to be highly heritable, and not significantly related to environmental factors such as socioeconomic status, school quality, or parent quality.[2] Two twin studies suggested a significant genetic influence for CU, with an estimated average amount of variation (42.5%) in CU traits accounted for by genetic effects.[2] A substantial proportion of this genetic variation occurred independent of other dimensions of psychopathy.[2] Children with conduct problems who also exhibit high levels of CU traits reflect a particularly high heritability rate of 0.81, as reflected in longitudinal research.[5]

Maltreatment and parenting may play a role in the development of antisocial behavior, but better research is needed to understand the interaction between genetic and epigenetic factors.[8]

Diagnosis[edit]

Research has attempted to subtype youth with callous and unemotional traits by distinguishing between those with childhood-onset versus adolescent-onset conduct disorder, conduct disorder co-morbid with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or by the severity and type of aggression displayed.[4] Children with CU traits have more severe conduct disorder, and respond to different management.[1] The Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU) assesses three independent factors in CU traits: uncaring, callous, and unemotional.[9] The severity of CD has been studied in children rated high on CU traits.[5]

Management[edit]

Though CU traits are relatively stable, they can decrease over time through effective treatment.[2] Early intervention is thought to be more effective because CU traits are thought to be more malleable early in life.[10]

Parenting techniques[edit]

Parenting interventions are the best treatment for early onset antisocial behaviors in children.[11]

Quality parenting can decrease the manifestation of CU traits.[2] Children with high CU traits are less responsive to time-out and other punishing techniques than are healthy children as time-out does not seem to bother them, so their behavior does not improve.[12] Reward-based disciplining techniques, such as praise and reinforcement, tend to have a greater effect than punishing techniques on children with high CU traits.[5]

Prognosis[edit]

Childhood-onset CU shows a more aggressive and stable pattern of antisocial behavior with higher rates of CU traits, as well as more severe temperamental and neuropsychological risk factors relative to their adolescent-onset counterparts.[13] Children with combined CD and ADHD are more likely to show features associated with psychopathy, but only in those who have high rates of CU traits.[14] In support of the idea of lifetime persistence of CU traits, childhood-onset delinquency has been more strongly associated with psychopathic traits than adolescent-onset delinquency.[15] A longitudinal twin study of children with CD showed that high or increasing levels of CU traits comorbid with CD presented with the most negative outcomes after twelve years in relationships with peers and family, as well as emotional and behavioral problems, as compared to those with low CU traits or CD alone.[16] In addition, adolescents with CU traits have shown higher likelihood to commit a violent crime within a two-year period of their release from a correctional facility than those without CU traits.[17] Antisocial youth with CU traits tend to show less response to treatment.[5]

A systematic review found that CU traits were associated with poorer outcomes in family-based interventions for conduct problems. This suggests pre-treatment data on CU traits is clinically informative in terms of the prognostic status of children and young people with CU traits.[18]

History[edit]

Due to the potential severity of antisocial and violent traits seen in adult psychopathy, research has focused on identifying the associated traits in childhood. In adult psychopathy, individuals with primarily affective and interpersonal deficits show a distinct etiology.[19] Similarly, different subtypes of aggressive and antisocial behaviors in youth may predict distinct problem-behaviors and risk factors. There have been a number of attempts to officially designate psychopathic-like traits in antisocial youths based on the affective and interpersonal traits of psychopathy. The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III) divided conduct disorder into four subtypes: unsocialized-aggressive, undersocialized-nonaggressive, socialized-aggressive, and socialized-nonaggressive in an attempt to recognize the existence of psychopathic traits in children.[14] The distinction between "socialized" and "unsocialized" children was the most pertinent in distinguishing between psychopathic-like youths. According to these definitions, "undersocialized" children exhibited characteristic behaviors of psychopathy, including: lack of empathy, lack of affection, and inappropriate social relationships (DSM III). This differed from "socialized" individuals, who were able to form healthy social attachments to others, and whose aggressive and antisocial acts typically derived from engagement in a deviant social group (e.g. youth gangs).

Following the publication of DSM-III, these distinctions prompted research, but there were still issues with the terminology in diagnosing the core features of the undersocialized versus socialized subtype. The word undersocialized was used in order to avoid the negative connotations of psychopathy, but was commonly misinterpreted to mean that the child was not well socialized by parents or lacked a peer group. Also, the operational definition failed to include dimensions that could reliably predict the affective and interpersonal deficits in psychopathic-like youths. Due to these issues, the American Psychiatric Association removed the undersocialized and socialized distinctions from the conduct disorder description in the DSM after the third edition. The only subtypes that have been included in the manual since then relate to the time of onset: childhood-onset (before age 10), adolescent-onset (absence of antisocial traits before age 10), and unspecified-onset.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5" (PDF). DSM5.org. American Psychiatric Association. 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Frick PJ, White SF (April 2008). "Research review: the importance of callous-unemotional traits for developmental models of aggressive and antisocial behavior". J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49 (4): 359–75. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01862.x. PMID 18221345. 
  3. ^ Moffitt TE, Arseneault L, Jaffee SR, Kim-Cohen J, Koenen KC, Odgers CL, Slutske WS, Viding E (January 2008). "Research review: DSM-V conduct disorder: research needs for an evidence base". J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49 (1): 3–33. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01823.x. PMC 2822647. PMID 18181878. 
  4. ^ a b Frick PJ (December 2009). "Extending the construct of psychopathy to youth: implications for understanding, diagnosing, and treating antisocial children and adolescents". Can J Psychiatry 54 (12): 803–12. PMID 20047719. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Frick PJ, Dickens C (February 2006). "Current perspectives on conduct disorder". Curr Psychiatry Rep 8 (1): 59–72. doi:10.1007/s11920-006-0082-3. PMID 16513044. 
  6. ^ Salekin RT, Neumann CS, Leistico AM, Zalot AA (December 2004). "Psychopathy in youth and intelligence: an investigation of Cleckley's hypothesis". J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 33 (4): 731–42. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp3304_8. PMID 15498740. 
  7. ^ a b Hawes DJ, Brennan J, Dadds MR (July 2009). "Cortisol, callous-unemotional traits, and pathways to antisocial behavior". Curr Opin Psychiatry 22 (4): 357–62. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32832bfa6d. PMID 19455037. 
  8. ^ Viding E, Larsson H, Jones AP (August 2008). "Quantitative genetic studies of antisocial behaviour". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 363 (1503): 2519–27. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0037. PMC 2606717. PMID 18434281. 
  9. ^ Kimonis ER, Frick PJ, Skeem JL, Marsee MA, Cruise K, Munoz LC, Aucoin KJ, Morris AS (2008). "Assessing callous-unemotional traits in adolescent offenders: validation of the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits". Int J Law Psychiatry 31 (3): 241–52. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.04.002. PMID 18514315. 
  10. ^ Frick PJ, Ellis M (September 1999). "Callous-unemotional traits and subtypes of conduct disorder". Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 2 (3): 149–68. doi:10.1023/A:1021803005547. PMID 11227072. 
  11. ^ Dadds MR, Rhodes T (August 2008). "Aggression in young children with concurrent callous-unemotional traits: can the neurosciences inform progress and innovation in treatment approaches?". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 363 (1503): 2567–76. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0029. PMC 2606711. PMID 18434286. 
  12. ^ Loeber R, Burke JD, Pardini DA (2009). "Development and etiology of disruptive and delinquent behavior". Annu Rev Clin Psychol 5: 291–310. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.032408.153631. PMID 19154139. 
  13. ^ a b Moffitt TE (2006). "Life-course persistent versus adolescence-limited antisocial behavior". In Cicchetti D, Cohen DJ. Developmental psychopathology (2 ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 570–98. ISBN 978-0-470-05006-4. OCLC 300282429. 
  14. ^ a b Barry CT, Frick PJ, DeShazo TM, McCoy MG, Ellis M, Loney BR (May 2000). "The importance of callous-unemotional traits for extending the concept of psychopathy to children". J Abnorm Psychol 109 (2): 335–40. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.109.2.335. PMID 10895572. 
  15. ^ Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Harrington H, Milne BJ (2002). "Males on the life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial pathways: follow-up at age 26 years". Dev. Psychopathol. 14 (1): 179–207. doi:10.1017/S0954579402001104. PMID 11893092. 
  16. ^ Fontaine NM, McCrory EJ, Boivin M, Moffitt TE, Viding E (August 2011). "Predictors and outcomes of joint trajectories of callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems in childhood". J Abnorm Psychol 120 (3): 730–42. doi:10.1037/a0022620. PMID 21341879. 
  17. ^ Vincent GM, Vitacco MJ, Grisso T, Corrado RR (2003). "Subtypes of adolescent offenders: affective traits and antisocial behavior patterns". Behav Sci Law 21 (6): 695–712. doi:10.1002/bsl.556. PMID 14696027. 
  18. ^ Hawes, David J.; Price, Matthew J.; Dadds, Mark R. (April 2014). "Callous-Unemotional Traits and the Treatment of Conduct Problems in Childhood and Adolescence: A Comprehensive Review". Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. doi:10.1007/s10567-014-0167-1. 
  19. ^ Hare RD, Neumann CS (2008). "Psychopathy as a clinical and empirical construct". Annu Rev Clin Psychol 4: 217–46. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091452. PMID 18370617. 

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