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Self-reports of faulty parental attachments in childhood and criminal psychopathy in an adult-incarcerated population: an integrative literature review

Authors

  • C. Bailey BA,

    Student, Corresponding author
    1. College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
    • Correspondence:

      C. Bailey

      College of Education and Human Services

      West Virginia University

      Morgantown

      WV 26506

      USA

      E-mail: baileyc329@gmail.com

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  • D. Shelton PhD RN NE-BC CCHP FAAN

    E. Jane Martin Professor, Associate Dean for Research and PhD Education
    1. School of Nursing, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
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Abstract

Accessible summary

  • This study examined self-reports of psychopathic offenders' childhood interactions with their parents to better understand what variables influence adult criminal psychopathy.
  • The findings showed that childhood separations, physical abuse and indifferent parenting styles were more prominent in self-reports of incarcerated male psychopaths than with incarcerated males who were not psychopathic.
  • To better understand the worldview of the criminal psychopath, and the trajectory of psychopathy, there is a need for more studies that examine childhood interactions with parental figures as reported by the adult criminal psychopath.

Abstract

Despite the high percentage of incarcerated psychopaths, few studies attempt to assess the past parent–child bonds of these individuals by asking them to report childhood attachments with their parents. Currently, there is limited data regarding common variables that contribute to a break in parent–child attachment and later adult criminal psychopathy. The data that presently exist concentrate on juvenile or community samples and do not explore the attachment variables that continue into adult criminal psychopathy. This paper presents the current literature regarding self-reports of childhood attachment to parents as indicated by male-incarcerated adult psychopaths compared with self-reports of childhood attachment to parents as indicated by male-incarcerated adult non-psychopaths. Variables that influence a break in attachment between the offenders and their parents and suggestions for future clinical research are provided.

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