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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2008 Jul;9(3):144-66. doi: 10.1177/1524838008319633. Epub 2008 May 21.

Treatment of sexual offenders with psychopathic traits: recent research developments and clinical implications.

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Central District Parole, Correctional Service of Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada.


This article provides a review of recent literature related to the treatment of psychopathy in forensic settings, with particular focus on studies with sexual offenders. The lack of empirical support for the position that psychopaths are untreatable is noted, and data suggesting optimism is discussed. Research demonstrating an interaction between psychopathy and substance abuse and between psychopathy and sexual deviance is also presented. Both substance abuse disorders and inappropriate arousal are frequently encountered in high-risk groups of sexual offenders. These topics are of relevance, in that the question of whether treatment is beneficial with high-risk sexual offenders, including those who are psychopathic, cannot be answered unless groups presenting with typical concurrent disorders (paraphilias, substance abuse, dependence) are discussed. It is argued that, although the evidence is still preliminary, there is reason for optimism with reference to whether psychopathic sexual offenders are responsive to treatment, including offenders presenting with concurrent disorders.

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