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August 16, 2012

Essay Paper on Anti-social Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior

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Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior: Is there a correlation?
The topic “Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior: Is there a correlation” is a very important question because of its depth and its nature. Therefore, for understanding, it will be better to have some information about the important terms: Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior.
Criminal behavior
“Criminal behavior suggests a large number and variety of acts. Andrew and Bonta (1998) suggest four broad definitions of criminal behavior and the acts and behaviors that fit within these domains. These four areas are legal criminal behavior or actions that are prohibited my the state and punishable under the law, moral criminal behavior which refers to actions that violate the norms of religion and morality and are believed to be punishable by a supreme spiritual being, social criminal behavior which refers to actions that violate the norms of custom and tradition and are punishable by a community and finally psychological criminal behavior that refers to actions that may be rewarding to the actor but inflict pain or loss on others - it is criminal behavior that is anti-social behavior.” (Psychologycampus, 2010)
Antisocial personality disorder (APD)
“Antisocial personality disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by chronic behavior that manipulates, exploits, or violates the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.
Antisocial personality disorder is a condition in which people show a pervasive disregard for the law and the rights of others. People with antisocial personality disorder may tend to lie or steal and often fail to fulfill job or parenting responsibilities. The terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" are sometimes used to describe a person with antisocial personality disorder. Some scholars, such as Robert Hare, still distinguish psychopathy from mere antisocial behavior.” (, 2010)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM–IV) by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) (1994) described that Antisocial Personality Disorder is described as a persistent disregard for, and violation of people's rights.
“The concept of such a personality type is not new. For example, Theophrastus, a student of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, described a personality type that he termed the "unscrupulous man" and which included behaviors that are significant elements of the current concept of Antisocial Personality Disorder”(Millon, Simonsen, Birket-Smith, and Davis, 1998).
“During the past century, researchers and clinicians have used numerous terms to describe Antisocial Personality Disorder, including "moral insanity," "psychopathy," and "sociopathy." Likewise, the symptoms considered to be the key elements of psychopathy or an antisocial personality have evolved from a focus on the lack of emotional attachment in relationships with others (Cleckley, 1964) to a greater focus on external behaviors, especially aggressive and impulsive behaviors.” (APA, 1994).
Antisocial personality disorder is a psychological pattern that started during childhood and lasts through adulthood. As per the study, the individual must have a disorder history prior to the age of 15 and have a continual happening of symptoms in order to be categorized as having APD. Symptoms included:
• “Inability to conform to conventional norms with respect to the law
• Persistent trouble with the law, such as a history of arrests or violations
• Disregard for or resentment of figures of authority
• Pathological lying and deceitfulness
• Use of superficial charm or wit to influence others
• Manipulation of others for personal gain or sadistic pleasure
• Lack of remorse or guilt for harming others or violating laws; rationalizes mistreatment, betrayal, manipulation, and danger to others
• Callous lack of empathy
• Recklessness in regards to the safety of others around them, or even themselves
• Child neglect or abuse
• Abusive relationships
• Intimidation of others
• Feels that the world “owes” them; sense of entitlement
• Inability to plan for the future; failure to commit to long-term goals
• Persistent impulsivity
• Aggressive behavior such as assaults and physical disputes; belligerent reactions
• Irritability, hostility
• Consistent irresponsibility, as evident in their failure to sustain consistent work, complete education, maintain relationships, perform conscientious parenting, or honor financial obligations.” (Drugrehabwiki, 2010)
Is there a correlation?
The question is that, is there any correlation between the Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior or not. To get the answer of this question, first it would be better to look at the symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder as listed above. In the list, the Inability to conform to conventional norms with respect to the law,  Persistent trouble with the law, such as the history of arrests or violations,  Disregard for or resentment of figures of authority, Aggressive behavior such as assaults and physical disputes; belligerent reactions,  Irritability, hostility and Consistent irresponsibility, as evident in their failure to sustain consistent work, complete education, maintain relationships, perform conscientious parenting, or honor financial obligations are those symptoms that all lead to the crime and promoting the Criminal behavior inside the individuals.
Although there is a list of symptoms but the aggression is the important one in the study of Antisocial Personality Disorder and Crime correlation. The aggression is the key component in the Antisocial Personalities that provoke them to commit crimes; because in Psychology it has been defined as: “Aggression as behavior against another that intentionally inflicts harm.” (Geen, 1990)
Here for understanding, types of aggression are being discussed that can be found in human behavior as defined by the Moyer:
“Predatory Aggression: our motivated attack behaviors.  This aggression is directed to natural prey and is deeply routed in our ancestors hunting behavior.  Today it can be seen in the behavior of normal individuals as hunting.  Forensic implications: A variety of deviant and abnormal subjects may see others humans as lesser beings.  The deviant, which may include narcissists, could see others as non-equals and may not have any moral issues with stealing or hurting such individuals.  The psychopath cannot see through the eyes of others and may also not consider them as equals.  Such an individual may not have moral qualms with seriously injuring or even killing others.
Intermale Aggression: physical violence or submissive behavior displayed by males towards each other.  Forensic implications: these intermale drives could be an explanatory framework for the high rates of intermale violence.  Possible causes for such violence could be perceived competition for resources and ego threats that one male feels is being created by a second male.
Fear-Induced Aggression: responses believed to be biologically programmed into us so that we act in an aggressive manner towards any form of forced confinement. Forensic implications: such aggression could be a major issue to prison environments.  If already aggressive individuals are placed into an environment that fosters aggression via confinement violence risk may be increased.
Territorial Aggression: threat or attack behavior displayed towards an invasion of ones territory or the submissive-retreat behavior displayed when confronted while intruding.  Forensic implications: invasion of ones territory can include much more then property.  A believe that one is encroaching on ones status could also be considered an invasion.  The loss of power in relationships that can lead to spouse abuse could possibly be explained by this aggression model.
Maternal Aggression: aggressive behavior put forward by females (and most likely males as well) when an intruder is in the presence of ones children.  Forensic implications: none other then crimes explained by the situation that the definition gives.
Irritable Aggression: aggression and rage directed towards an object when the aggressor is frustrated, hurt, deprived, or stressed.  As a result one may aggress towards objects as an acceptable outlet of the aggression.  Forensic implications: some individuals whom do not use, or have available, appropriate outlets could have a spill over of aggression onto others.
Sex related aggression: aggressive behavior that is elicited by the same stimuli that elicits sexual behavior.  Any person who can evoke sexual desire can equally evoke aggression via jealousy, etc.  Forensic implications: besides the obvious jealousy-violence reactions, some individuals may for one reason or another come to associate sexual desire with violence and dominance.  This association could possibly explain a number of violent sexual acts that occur.
Instrumental Aggression: aggressive behavior displayed because it previously resulted in a reward.  Much of human aggression seems to be related to this.  Forensic implications: a possible theory for a number of crimes.  If one has received an reward (money, sexual gratification) due to a deviant aggressive act that they had performed they will be conditioned towards committing that act again when they are motivated to obtain that previously possessed reward”. (Moyer, 1976)
At this point, it should be remembered that Antisocial Personality Disorder is the part of majority of the Criminal behaviors but it is not the hard and fast rule, it is not necessary that every criminal has the Antisocial Personality Disorder.
An American Researcher Lewis Yablonsky highlighted the key element about the criminals, especially those who were engaged in violent activities according to him,
“Most violent-gang behavior is sociopathic; however, many but certainly not all gangsters can be characterized as having sociopathic personalities. A comprehensive analysis of the concept of sociopathology and the sociopathic personality, in my view, is vital to understanding gangsters and the overall gang problem.
Pathology becomes most apparent in their treatment of other people. In contrast with my view of violent gangsters as sociopaths, some gang theorists and researchers persist in perceiving contemporary gangs as 'families' and normal adolescent groupings. These viewpoints present a distorted perception of gangs as normal rather than pathological collectivities. The sociopath factor explains how and why gangsters can kill without remorse or regret……A gangster can commit horrendous acts of violence in the context of gangbanging, and it is sanctioned by his gang. After a period of participating in a variety of dehumanized acts ... they tend to become unfeeling. Through this gang process of desensitizing their behavior, they become capable of committing spontaneous acts of senseless violence without feeling concern or guilt.” (Yablonsky, 1997)
However, as it was discussed that Antisocial Personality Disorder is common in criminals and the part of their behavior or aggressive behavior. Another study revealed the interesting relationship between the Neurochemicals in Criminals and Anti-Social Behavior. According to that study:
The Neurochemicals are the major components that play a key role in formalization and activation of patterns of the behavior and tendencies in the selected parts of the brain. (Elliot, 2000)
According to the Brunner et al. (1993) there have been efforts to find out the role of neurochemicals in influencing antisocial behavior. The important elements and neurochemicals that are the catalyst to determine the tendencies of behavioral patterns are monoamine oxidase (MOA), serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine and norepinephrine. For better understanding, the descriptions of these neurochemicals are following:
“The Brunner et al. study is the only one to report findings of a relationship between a point mutation in the structural gene for MAOA and aggression, which makes the findings rare. However, there has been other evidence that points to the conclusion that deficiencies in MAOA activity may be more common and as a result may predispose individuals to antisocial or aggressive behavior”. (Brunner et al., 1993)
“Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that has been shown to be related to antisocial behavior. Specifically, low MAO activity results in disinhibition which can lead to impulsivity and aggression”. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that has been shown to be related to antisocial behavior. Specifically, low MAO activity results in disinhibition which can lead to impulsivity and aggression (Elliot, 2000). MAO is associated with many of the neurochemicals that already have a link to antisocial or criminal behavior. Norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are metabolized by both MAOA and MAOB”. (Elliot, 2000).While, according to Eysenck (1996), MAO is related to norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, which are all related to the personality factor of psychosis”. (Eysenck, 1996)
“Serotonin is a neurochemical that plays an important role in the personality traits of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder (Larsen & Buss, 2005). It is also involved with brain development and a disorder in this system could lead to an increase in aggressiveness and impulsivity”. (Morley & Hall, 2003)
“Low levels of serotonin have been found to be associated with impulsive behavior and emotional aggression. In addition, children who suffer from conduct disorder, have also been shown to have low blood serotonin”. (Elliot, 2000)
“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with pleasure and is also one of the neurotransmitters that is chiefly associated with aggression. Activation of both affective (emotionally driven) and predatory aggression is accomplished by dopamine (Elliot, 2000). Genes in the dopaminergic pathway have also been found to be involved with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)”. (Morley & Hall, 2003)
“According to another study, a relationship was found between the genes in the dopaminergic pathway, impulsivity, ADHD, and violent offenders. Obviously, from this list of neurochemicals it seems plausible that there is a genetic component to antisocial or criminal behavior.” (Morley and Hall, 2003)
“One area of personality research in molecular genetics that has received a lot of attention is the trait of novelty-seeking, and novelty seeking is a personality trait often associated with criminality. Research has indicated that the single DRD4 gene may account for 10% of the genetic variance in relation to novelty-seeking” (Sloan, 2000).

Some other also studies revealed that, criminality or Criminal Behavior is also the byproduct of the environment. In addition to the Antisocial Personality Disorder, other disorders also play their key role to formalize the Criminal Behavior, these disorders are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder etc.
 “Research done by Leonard Heston in 1960 examined children of schizophrenic mothers that were removed after birth and raised by foster parents. Out of a total of 47 children examined, Heston found that nine of them were diagnosed with sociopathic personalities and antisocial behavior, and four of the 47 children developed schizophrenia. Heston also found behavioral abnormalities in many of the other children.” (Eysenk, 1982)
Another study that was focused on twins, identified that there are major concordance among the non-identical and identical twins for manic depression. This study identified the genetic basis of the disorders that is as follows:
“For schizophrenia the concordance in identical twins was 60%, compared to only 10% in non-identical twins, and the normal frequency being 1% in northern European populations. Similarly, manic depression showed a 70% concordance between identical twins, a 15% concordance between non-identical twins, and again only a 1% frequency in the normal population” (Russo & Cove, 1995). Above data further supports the theory that Genetic has a major role in the personality disorders.
After having the detailed insight, it seems appropriate if the writer would share his personal experience. The writer’s brother is currently incarcerated and he exhibits all of the characteristics of Antisocial Personality Disorder. He remains in and out of prison. Also, the writer is currently working for the Georgia Department of Corrections as a counselor and all his clients display the signs and symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder. This experience has shown that most of the Criminal has Antisocial Personality Disorder.
A study conducted by Moeller & Dougherty (2010), who belong to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), revealed that alcohol causes to increase the aggression that further cause to lead the crime.
The statement of Mr. Gabbard also support the argument, Mr. Gabbard is the professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and also the director of Baylor Psychiatry Clinic and training and supervising analyst at the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute. His research has proved that seventy five percent Prisoners (approx) are identified as the Victim of antisocial personality disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 2004)
Case Study
During the observation, another case came-across that further enhanced the spectrum of understanding about the relationship between Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior and its connection with the above mentioned brother’s situation. This case study is done by John Masala who is M.D., M.R.C. Psych in Dubrava Psychiatric Unit, Penal Management Department, Pristina, Kosovo. This study is about a 45-year-old man with a criminal track record since the age of 14. He also had more than 10-year record of abusing drugs.  According to the study:
“The Person is a 45-year-old single man who lives with his 82-year-old mother, selling firewood for a living. He has 3 brothers who have their own homes. His childhood was uneventful, although he stopped attending school at primary level after repeated truancies. His attitude toward his parents was defiant and rebellious; he stole from home on occasion and was disobedient to his parents. He never had a regular job.
The Person has a long criminal history that began at the age of 14 years. Since then, he has been in and out prison numerous times, mostly for petty crimes such as disturbing public order. Once, he was charged with rape but was not convicted due to lack of enough evidence, and another time he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for a drug offense. He abused heroin and cocaine for more than 10 years. He spent a total of 19 years in prison for various offenses.
In December 2005, The Person was arrested again. The police report states that he hired a taxi and went to a house, where he threatened a female owner and took a television set by force. The taxi driver became suspicious and drove him to the police station and reported the incident. The Person was later arrested and charged with burglary.
While in custody awaiting trial, The Person demanded to be immediately released or taken to court for a case hearing, claiming his innocence. Since he was not given either demand, he started a hunger strike, taking nothing except water. On the second day of food refusal, he took a razor blade and cut open his abdomen, attempting to put his hand inside the wound. He seemed not to be in pain. He even resisted help. Only after he was restrained was it possible to give aid and rush him to a general public hospital. The wound was cleaned and closed with 8 stitches. Antibiotics were prescribed, but he refused to take medication. He ended his hunger strike on the fourth day. After 3 days of hospitalization, he was brought back to prison. This time, he ripped open the wound and removed the stitches. There were signs of bacterial infection. He was pyretic (38.5°C) and his blood pressure was 120/90 mm Hg. Consequently, he was taken back to the hospital, where he stayed for 2 weeks before being transferred to another detention center. He did not self-mutilate or go on a hunger strike again until the court released him 4 months later. It was reported that 2 years before his present incarceration, he spent 10 months in prison and was released after cutting himself on the abdomen. He complained that no one took him seriously unless he cut himself. Medical records reveal that he has self-mutilated on several other occasions. In general appearance, he was unkempt and disheveled, anxious, restless, and agitated. He spoke with a loud voice. He did not have delusions or evidence of abnormal perceptions. His cognitive functions were intact. He had 5 large incision scars on his abdomen and tattoos on his chest, legs, and right arm. Physical examination results were basically within normal limits”. (Masala, 2009)
“The Person had inappropriate intense anger, impulsivity, repeated self-destructive acts, and difficulty in establishing a relationship. He had a history of drug abuse, truancy, dropping out of school, unemployment, and many conflicts with the law. Self-mutilation is common in borderline personality disorder; usually, the patients' intent is not to end their lives.” (JM, 2006)
“The act could be one of a coping mechanism when, under severe stress, like a catharsis, they need to release emotions, distress, overwhelming feelings of anger, or emotional pain they cannot control.” (JG and Ridolfi, 2001)
“Self-mutilation may be used as a form of communicating negative emotions. The Person has repeatedly cut deeply into his abdomen when upset. He removed stitches to stop the wound from healing. Before cutting himself, he expressed anger, aggression, and impulsivity. The cause of such destructive behavior is likely to be multifactorial, which may include psychological factors—a learned maladaptive behavior to get what he wants.
Social factors may include interpersonal relationships, early childhood family environment, and childhood physical, sexual, or emotional trauma. Biological factors related to serotonergic dysfunction in the brain have been suggested”. (MY and Zahrani, 1998) & (Simeon D, Stanley B, Frances A, Mann JJ, Winchel R, Stanley M, 1990s)
After having detailed information, discussion and reviewing the case study, following are the brief information about the Antisocial Personality Disorder that will help to correlate the above information with the conclusion:
A Glance on Antisocial Personality Disorder
“A personality disorder (PD) is a persistent pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that is significantly different from what is considered normal within the person's own culture. Personality disorders are grouped into clusters A, B, and C based on the dominating symptoms. Antisocial personality disorder is specifically a pervasive pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others and may include symptoms such as breaking laws, frequent lying, starting fights, lack of guilt and taking personal responsibility, and the presence of irritability and impulsivity. Psychopathy is considered to be a more severe form of antisocial personality disorder. Specifically, in order to be considered a psychopath, an individual must experience a lack of remorse or guilt about their actions in addition to demonstrating antisocial behaviors. Psychopaths tend to be highly suspicious or paranoid, even in comparison to individuals with antisocial personality disorder, which tends to lead the psychopathic person to interpret all aggressive behaviors toward them as being arbitrary and unfair. Antisocial personality disorder is likely the result of a combination of biologic/genetic and environmental factors. Some theories about the biological risk factors for antisocial personality disorder include dysfunction of certain genes, hormones, or parts of the brain. Diagnoses often associated with antisocial personality disorder include substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and reading disorders.
Theories regarding the life experiences that put people at risk for antisocial personality disorder include a history of childhood physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; neglect, deprivation, or abandonment; associating with peers who engage in antisocial behavior; or having a parent who is either antisocial or alcoholic. Since there is no specific definitive test that can accurately assess the presence of antisocial personality disorder, practitioners conduct a mental-health interview that looks for the presence of antisocial symptoms. If the cultural context of the symptoms is not considered, antisocial personality disorder is often falsely diagnosed as being present. Research indicates ethnic minorities tend to be falsely diagnosed as having antisocial personality disorder, inappropriately resulting in less treatment and more punishment for those individuals. Although antisocial personality disorder can be quite resistant to treatment, the most effective interventions tend to be a combination of firm but fair programming that emphasizes teaching the antisocial personality disorder individuals skills that can be used to live independently and productively within the rules and limits of society. While medications do not directly treat the behaviors that characterize antisocial personality disorder, they can be useful in addressing conditions like depression, anxiety, and mood swings that co-occur with this condition. If untreated, people with antisocial personality disorder are at risk for developing or worsening a myriad of other mental disorders. Antisocial personality disorder individuals are also at risk for self-mutilation or dying from homicide or suicide. Many people with antisocial personality disorder experience a remission of symptoms by the time they reach 50 years of age.” (Medicinenet, 2010)
This study and discussion support and prove that there is a correlation between Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior. If the Brother’s experience is compared with the case study, the common characteristics found are: both are addicted, long history of crime and repeatedly  in and out history from prison, that also support the positive correlation of Antisocial Personality Disorder and Criminal Behavior but one thing should be remembered as, it is also mentioned above that the Antisocial Personality Disorder is the part of the  majority of the Criminal behaviors but it is not the hard and fast rule, it is not necessary that every criminal has the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

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