Clinical change in psychopathic traits after the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program: preliminary findings of a controlled trial with male detained youth

Abstract

Objective

To assess the preliminary efficacy of the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP in reducing psychopathic traits among male detained youth.

Method

In this controlled trial, a treatment group (n = 24) and a control group (n = 22) answered the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory-Short at baseline and post-treatment. Treatment participants attended the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP, in addition to the Treatment As Usual (TAU); controls only received TAU. The treatment effects were tested both at a group level (2 × 2 mixed ANOVA) and at an individual level (Reliable Change Index; RCI).

Results

ANOVAs showed medium to large effect sizes (η2p), while RCIs revealed strong to moderate effect sizes (Cramer’s V).

Conclusions

Despite the limitations, this study offered preliminary evidence for the efficacy of the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP, suggesting that interventions targeting psychopathic traits should be considered in the rehabilitation of detained youth, as the absence of tailored interventions may increase the levels of psychopathic traits and its associated risks.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Please note that there are several conceptualizations of psychopathic traits in youthful populations as well as several measurement tools attuned to the underpinning conceptualization. For a recent and in-depth discussion on this topic, see Salekin et al. (2018).

  2. 2.

    These individual sessions are not structured and depend on the theoretical background of the psychologist as well as on his/her availability.

  3. 3.

    Assumptions were checked prior to the analysis—no assumptions were violated; Shapiro-Wilk tests all p > .05; Levene’s tests—all p > .05

References

  1. Abram, K. M., Zwecker, N. A., Welty, L. J., Hershfield, J. A., Dulcan, M. K., & Teplin, L. A. (2015). Comorbidity and continuity of psychiatric disorders in youth after detention: a prospective longitudinal study. JAMA Psychiatry, 72, 84–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Andershed, H., Kerr, M., Stattin, H., & Levander, S. (2002). Psychopathic traits in non-reffered youth: initial test of a new assessment tool. In E. Blaauw & I. Sheridan (Eds.), Psychopaths: current international perspectives (pp. 131–158). Hague: Elsevier.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2010). Rehabilitating criminal justice policy and practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 16, 39–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Atkins, C. D., Bedics, J. D., McGlinchey, J. B., & Bauchaine, T. (2005). Assessing clinical significance: does it matter which method we use? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 982–989.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Butler, S., Baruch, G., Hickey, N., & Fonagy, P. (2011). A randomized controlled trial of multisystemic therapy and a statutory therapeutic intervention for young offenders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50, 1220–1235.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Caldwell, M. F. (2011). Treatment-related changes in behavioral outcomes of psychopathy facets in adolescent offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 35, 275–287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Caldwell, M. F., Skeem, J., Salekin, R., & Van Rybroek, G. (2006). Treatment response of adolescent offenders with psychopathy features: a 2-year follow-up. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33, 571–596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cleckley, H. (1988). The mask of sanity: an attempt to clarify some issues about the so-called psychopathic personality (6th ed.). St. MO: Mosby (original work published in 1941).

  10. Cowan, C. S. M., Callaghan, B. L., Kan, J. M., & Richardson, R. (2016). The lasting impact of early-life adversity on individuals and their descendants: potential mechanisms and hope for intervention. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 15, 155–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. da Ribeiro Silva, D., Castilho, P., Miguel, R., Paulo, M., Gilbert, P., & Rijo, D., (2017). The PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program: an individual compassion-based psychotherapeutic intervention for young offenders with psychopathic traits. Unpublished intervention manual.

  12. David, D., & Montgomery, G. H. (2011). The scientific status of psychotherapies: a new evaluative framework for evidence-based psychosocial interventions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 18, 89–99.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Del Giudice, M., & Ellis, B. J. (2015). Evolutionary foundations of developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology, Vol. 2: developmental neuroscience (3th ed., pp. 1-58). New York: Wiley.

  14. Des Jarlais, D. C., Lyles, C., Crepaz, N., & the Trend Group. (2004). Improving the reporting quality of nonrandomized evaluations of behavioral and public health interventions: the TREND statement. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 361–366.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Edens, J. F., Campbell, J. S., & Weir, J. M. (2007). Youth psychopathy and criminal recidivism: a meta-analysis of the psychopathy checklist measures. Law and Human Behavior, 31, 53–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Elison, J., Pulos, S., & Lennon, R. (2006). Investigating the compass of shame: the development of the compass of shame scale. Social Behavior and Personality, 34, 221–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A. G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 1149–1160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Garofalo, C., Neumann, C. S., & Velotti, P. (2018). Difficulties in emotion regulation and psychopathic traits in violent offenders. Journal of Criminal Justice, 57, 116–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Gilbert, P. (2010). Compassion focused therapy: the CBT distinctive features series. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Gilbert, P. (2015). An evolutionary approach to emotion in mental health with a focus on affiliative emotions. Emotion Review, 7, 230–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gilbert, P. (2019). Explorations into the nature and function of compassion. Current Opinion in Psychology, 28, 108–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gretton, H. M., Hare, R. D., & Catchpole, R. E. H. (2004). Psychopathy and offending from adolescence to adulthood: a 10-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 636–645.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Harris, G. T., & Rice, M. E. (2006). Treatment of psychopathy: a review of empirical findings. In C. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 555–572). New York: Guildford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hecht, L. K., Latzman, R. D., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2018). The psychological treatment of psychopathy. In D. David, S. J. Lynn, & G. H. Monegomery (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapy: the state of the science and practice (pp. 271–298). Hoboken.

  25. Henry, J., Dionne, G., Viding, E., Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., Tremblay, R. E., & Boivin, M. (2018). Early warm-rewarding parenting moderates the genetic contributions to callous–unemotional traits in childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59, 1282–1288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hoge, R. D., Andrews, D. A., & Leschied, A. (2002). The youth level of service/case management inventory. Toronto: Multi Health Systems.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hollin, C. R. (2008). Evaluating offending behaviour programmes: does only randomization glister? Criminology & Criminal Justice, 8, 89–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Jacobson, N. S., & Truax, P. (1991). Clinical significance: a statistical approach to defining meaningful change in psychotherapy research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 39, 12–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kirby, J. N., Tellegen, C. L., & Steindl, S. R. (2017). A meta-analysis of compassion-based interventions: current state of knowledge and future directions. Behavior Therapy, 48, 778–792.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Koehler, J. A., Lösel, F., Akoensi, T. D., & Humphreys, D. K. (2013). A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of young offender treatment programs in Europe. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9, 19–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kosson, D. S., Vitacco, M. J., Swogger, M. T., & Steuerwald, B. L. (2016). Emotional experiences of the psychopath. In C. B. Gacono (Ed.), Personality and clinical psychology series. The clinical and forensic assessment of psychopathy: a practitioner’s guide (pp. 73–95). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group: New York, NY, US.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Kumsta, R. (2019). The role of epigenetics for understanding mental health difficulties and its implications for psychotherapy research. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 92, 190–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Leaviss, J., & Uttley, L. (2015). Psychotherapeutic benefits of compassion-focused therapy: an early systematic review. Psychological Medicine, 45, 927–945.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Leistico, A. R., Salekin, R. T., DeCoster, J., & Rogers, R. (2008). A large-scale meta-analysis related the Hare measures of psychopathy to antisocial conduct. Law and Human Behavior, 32, 28–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Maaseen, G. (2001). The unreliable change of reliable change indices. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39, 495–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. MacKenzie, D. L., & Farrington, D. P. (2015). Preventing future offending of delinquents and offenders: what we have learned from experiments and meta-analyses? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11, 565–595.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Manders, W. A., Deković, M., Asscher, J. J., van der Laan, P. H., & Prins, P. J. (2013). Psychopathy as predictor and moderator of multisystemic therapy outcomes among adolescents treated for antisocial behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 1121–1132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Murray, L., Dotterer, H. L., Waller, R., & Hyde, L. W. (2018). Neurogenetics approaches to understanding psychopathy. In M. Delisi (Ed.), Routledge international handbook of psychopathy and crime (pp. 113–138). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Nathanson, D. L. (1992). Shame and pride: affect, sex, and the bird of the self. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Pasalich, D. S., Dadds, M. R., Hawes, D. J., & Brennan, J. (2011). Do callous‐unemotional traits moderate the relative importance of parental coercion versus warmth in child conduct problems? An observational study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 1308–1315.

  41. Pechorro, P., Andershed, H., Ray, J. V., Maroco, J., & Gonçalves, R. A. (2015). Validation of the youth psychopathic traits inventory and youth psychopathic traits inventory – short version among incarcerated juvenile delinquents. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 37, 576–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Pechorro, P., Ribeiro Da Silva, D., Andershed, H., Rijo, D., & Gonçalves, R. A. (2017). Psychometric properties and measurement invariance of the youth psychopathic traits inventory - short version among Portuguese youth. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 39, 486–497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Perepletchikova, F. (2011). On the topic of treatment integrity. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 18, 148–153.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Polaschek, D. L., & Skeem, J. L. (2018). Treatment of adults and juveniles with psychopathy. In C. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 710–731). New York: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Rijo, D., & Salekin, R. T. (2012). Child and adolescent psychopathy: a state-of-the-art reflection on the construct and etiological theories. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40, 269–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Rijo, D., & Salekin, R. T. (2013). Child and adolescent psychopathy: assessment issues and treatment needs. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18, 71–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Rijo, D., & Salekin, R. T. (2015). The evolutionary roots of psychopathy. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 21, 85–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Rijo, D., Castilho, P., & Gilbert, P. (2019a). The efficacy of a compassion focused therapy-based intervention in reducing psychopathic traits and disruptive behavior: a clinical case study with a juvenile detainee. Clinical Case Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534650119849491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Salekin, R. T., & Rijo, D. (2019b). Psychopathic severity profiles: a latent profile analysis in youth samples with implications for the diagnosis of conduct disorder. Journal of Criminal Justice, 60, 74–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Ribeiro da Silva, D., Vagos, P., & Rijo, D. (2019c). An evolutionary model to conceptualize psychopathic traits across community and forensic male youth. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 63, 574–596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Rijo, D., Sousa, M. N., Lopes, J., Pereira, J., Vasconcelos, J., Mendonça, M. C., et al. (2007). Gerar Percursos Sociais: Programa de prevenção e reabilitação para jovens com comportamento social desviante [Growing Pro-Social: prevention and rehabilitation program for youths with deviant social behavior]. Ponta Delgada: EQUAL.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Rijo, D., Brazão, N., Barroso, R., Ribeiro da Silva, D., Vagos, P., Vieira, A., Lavado, A., & Macedo, A. M (2016). Mental health problems in male young offenders in custodial versus community based-programs: implications for juvenile justice interventions. Child and Adolescence Psychiatry and Mental Health, 10, 40, 52.

  53. Salekin, R. T. (2002). Psychopathy and therapeutic pessimism: clinical lore or clinical reality? Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 79–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Salekin, R. T., Tippey, J. G., & Allen, A. D. (2012). Treatment of conduct problem youth with interpersonal callous traits using mental models: measurement of risk and change. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 30, 470–486.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Salekin, R. T. (2016). Psychopathy in childhood: Toward better informing the DSM–5 and ICD-11 conduct disorder specifiers. Personality disorders: Theory, research, and treatment. 7, 180–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Salekin, R. T. (2017). Research review: What do we know about psychopathic traits in children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58, 1180–1200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Salekin, R. T., Andershed, H., & Clark, A. P. (2018). Psychopathy in children and adolescents: assessment and critical questions regarding conceptualization. In C. J. Patrick (Ed.). Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 479–508). (2 nd Ed). New York: Guilford Press.

  58. Sheehan, D. V., Sheehan, K. H., Shytle, R. D., Janavsm, J., Bannon, Y., Rogersm, J. E., et al. (2010). Reliability and validity of the mini international neuropsychiatric interview for children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71, 313–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Sheskin, M., Chevallier, C., Lambert, S., & Baumard, N. (2014). Life-history theory explains childhood moral development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18, 613–615.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Steindl, S. R., Kirby, J. N., & Tellegan, C. (2018). Motivational interviewing in compassion-based interventions: theory and practical applications. Clinical Psychologist, 22, 265–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Tabachnick, B., & Fidell, L. (2013). Using multivariate statistics. Boston: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Vagos, P., Ribeiro da Silva, D., Brazão, N., Rijo, D., & Gilbert, P. (2016). Dimensionality and measurement invariance of the Other as Shamer Scale across diverse adolescent samples. Personality and Individual Differences, 98, 289–296.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Vagos, P., Ribeiro da Silva, D., Brazão, N., Rijo, D., & Gilbert, P. (2017). The Early Memories of Warmth and Safeness Scale for adolescents: cross-sample validation of the complete and brief versions. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24, 793–804.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Vagos, P., Ribeiro da Silva, D., Brazão, N., & Rijo, D. (2018). The Centrality of Events Scale in Portuguese adolescents: validity evidence based on internal structure and on relations to other variables. Assessment, 25, 527–538.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Vagos, P., Ribeiro da Silva, D., Brazão, N., Rijo, D., & Elison, J. (2019). Psychometric properties of the Compass of Shame Scale: testing for measurement invariance across community and forensic adolescent samples. Child & Youth Care Forum, 48, 93–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Van Baardewijk, Y., Andershed, H., Stegge, H., Nilsson, K., Scholte, E., & Vermeiren, R. (2010). Development and tests of short versions of the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory and the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory-Child Version. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 26, 122–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Waller, R., Trentacosta, C. J., Shaw, D. S., Neiderhiser, J. M., Ganiban, J. M., Reiss, D., et al. (2016). Heritable temperament pathways to early callous–unemotional behaviour. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 209, 475–482.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Wilkinson, S., Waller, R., & Viding, E. (2015). Practitioner review: involving young people with callous unemotional traits in treatment – does it work? A systematic review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 5, 552–565.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Wise, E. A. (2004). Methods for analyzing psychotherapy outcomes: a review of clinical significance, reliable change, and recommendations for future directions. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82, 50–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors want to thank to all youth enrolled in this study and to the staff members of the detention facilities.

Funding

This research has been supported by the first author PhD Grant (SFRH/BD/99795/2014), sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). This work was also financed by FEDER—European Social Fund—through the COMPETE 2020–Operational Program for Competitiveness and Internationalization (POCI) and by Portuguese funds through FCT in the framework of the project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016724.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Diana Ribeiro da Silva.

Ethics declarations

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra, by the Portuguese Data Protection Authority, and by the Portuguese Ministry of Justice. Participants older than 18 years gave verbal and written consent for their own participation, and participants younger than 18 years verbally assented to their own participation in addition to their parents/legal guardians’ written consent.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ribeiro da Silva, D., Rijo, D., Salekin, R.T. et al. Clinical change in psychopathic traits after the PSYCHOPATHY.COMP program: preliminary findings of a controlled trial with male detained youth. J Exp Criminol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-020-09418-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Compassion focused therapy
  • Conduct disorder
  • Detained youth
  • Individual psychotherapeutic interventions
  • Juvenile justice system
  • Psychopathic traits
  • PSYCHOPATHY.COMP