The purpose of this paper is to consider oxytocin as a treatment for children diagnosed with callous unemotional [CU] traits, emotion regulation and whether moral disability is a meaningful category.
The paper discusses the relationship between psychiatric diagnoses, moral opprobrium and disability in relation to emotion regulation and diagnoses of callous unemotional conduct disorder (CUCD) and psychopathy, together with current research on oxytocin in humans.
Diagnoses of callous unemotional traits and psychopathy are problematic as a result of inbuilt moral opprobrium, while treating CUCD with oxytocin to promote prosociality through mandating a moral feeling brain oversimplifies how this neuropeptide operates in humans.
Oxytocin is currently under trial as a treatment for behavioural variant fronto‐temporal dementia, where patients display symptoms similar to those diagnosed with CUCD. As genetic, environmental and ethnic factors affect oxytocin's effects in humans, caution is warranted before supporting its use to treat CUCD. Moreover, such use may represent a reductionist technofix compared with addressing socioeconomic factors promoting the manifestation of CU traits as an adaptation.
Mackenzie, R. and Watts, J. (2012), "Does lack of a moral feeling brain indicate moral disability? Children diagnosed with callous unemotional traits, emotion regulation and the potential of treatment with oxytocin", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 184-193. https://doi.org/10.1108/13595471211272532Download as .RIS
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