Effects of Psychopathy on Neurocognitive Impulsivity in Substance Users

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a cluster of personality and behavioral traits, which fall into two factors. Factor 1 is characterized by affective (e.g., callousness, lack of remorse) and interpersonal traits (e.g., manipulativeness, superficial charm), whereas Factor 2 consists of lifestyle (e.g., impulsivity, irresponsibility) and antisocial traits (e.g., early behavior problems, poor behavioral controls) (62). This distinction is reflected in the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [PCL-R; (6364)], the most widely used instrument for measuring psychopathy, which differentiates between interpersonal-affective and impulsive-antisocial features of psychopathy (6566), closely resembling the traditional distinction between primary and secondary psychopathy (6769). Studies with the PCL-R reveal that Factor 1 is uniquely related to lower levels of anxiety and impulsivity, whereas Factor 2 is associated with negative emotionality, impulsivity, and substance misuse (637071).

Psychopathy often co-occurs with SUDs (7274) and is associated with a variety of negative outcomes in people with SUDs, including high treatment attrition, substance use during treatment, high relapse rates, and increased risk for post-treatment violent offending (737577). Studies using machine-learning approaches reveal that psychopathy is the highest and the only common predictor of dependence on different classes of drugs, including heroin, amphetamine, cannabis, nicotine, and alcohol (5455). This suggests that psychopathy may be an important diagnostic marker for SUDs, regardless of drug class


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