Nowadays, psychopathy is deemed not as a personality formed by their parents and environment surround the person, but a congenital pathology in the brain, although there is broad controversy. Psychopathic persons have a difficulty of imagining the agony of others. They also tend not to learn from negative feedback (punishment) resulting from their inappropriate behaviors. Such tendencies are considered as a systemic dysfunction of the frontal lobe.
The callous-unemotional (CU) trait is a predictive factor of psychopathy. Adolescents with CU trait is highly likely to develop psychopathic tendency. Therefore, early detection of CU trait of children is crucial.
A recent study suggested that a tool set applies to three years old children for measuring CU trait.
The Independent: Is your child a psychopath? Study reveals the warning signs and how early you can spot them
In this study, 214 preschool children were examined. And 10% of the participants showed CU trait. This percentage is consistent with the prevalence rate of psychopathy. The researchers are confident of the quality of the toolset they developed.
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology: Can Callous-Unemotional Traits be Reliably Measured in Preschoolers?
This result is interesting, but a prospective cohort study should be conducted to prove that this tool set is accurately predicted the onset of the psychopathy. On the other hand, participants showed a warning sign may have to be protected and treated so that they can improve social skills.
Whether psychopathy is one unit of psychopathology is also doubtful. Another study indicated that six-weeks old children preferred seeing a human face to a circle object, unless they had CU trait.
Biological Psychiatry: Reduced Face Preference in Infancy: A Developmental Precursor to Callous-Unemotional Traits?
If this result is reliable, the root of psychopathy is developed in the stage of an infant. However, as the authors admitted, a tendency not to chase a human face is also seen in children with autistic disorders. It is highly suggested that autistic disorder is relevant to psychopathic tendency. Thus, it is uncertain whether we can detect the seed of psychopathy or only autism using this kind of examination.
Social function is a complicated concept. We have many things to investigate to clarify what is psychopathy.