Parsing Fear: A Reassessment of the Evidence for Fear Deficits in Psychopathy

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by interpersonal manipulation and callousness, and reckless and impulsive antisocial behavior. It is often seen as a disorder in which profound emotional disturbances lead to antisocial behavior. A lack of fear in particular has been proposed as an etiologically salient factor. In this review, we employ a conceptual model in which fear is parsed into separate subcomponents. Important historical conceptualizations of psychopathy, the neuroscientific and empirical evidence for fear deficits in psychopathy are compared against this model. The empirical evidence is also subjected to a meta-analysis. We conclude that most studies have used the term “fear” generically, amassing different methods and levels of measurement under the umbrella term “fear.” Unlike earlier claims that psychopathy is related to general fearlessness, we show there is evidence that psychopathic individuals have deficits in threat detection and responsivity, but that the evidence for reduced subjective experience of fear in psychopathy is far less compelling.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles