Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Pierre Herpers (Donders series 247)

8 december 2016

Promotors: prof. dr. J. Buitelaar, copromotors: dr. N. Lambregts-Rommelse,
dr. C. Greven

Callous-unemotional traits in a cross-disorder perspective

This thesis addresses the role of callous-unemotional (CU) traits across child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. CU traits have been viewed as an essential dimension of psychopathy, and have been related to increased levels of antisocial behavior in the presence of conduct disorder (CD). Up till now, research regarding CU traits outside CD has been sparse. This thesis aimed to increase our knowledge regarding CU traits in youths with clinical disorders.
Study results showed that CU traits constitute a reasonably valid construct within CD, but can be found outside CD as well. CU traits were found to occur as a cross disorder phenomenon also in disorders that are not per se associated with an increased risk for high CU traits (e.g. anxiety and mood disorders), and to be related to decreased quality of life (QoL) also in those disorders. Furthermore, CU traits were found to reflect a continuous rather than categorical construct. Overall, this thesis showed that CU traits seem to be related to specific neurobiological and neuropsychological functioning which might lead to major problems regarding daily life functioning across disorders. Further research is needed to find meaningful preventive and therapeutic interventions, and thus, to decrease the burden of dysfunction for individuals as well as society.