Psychodynamic Characteristics of Ego in Alcoholic Offenders and Non-Offenders

Article excerpt

Summary - The research was based on some personality characteristics of alcoholics, such as specific ego qualities of alcoholic offenders in respect to the type of criminal offence, and non-offenders. The research was carried out in the prison and within the hospital system during the years of 2002/2003 in Popovaca. Two groups of subjects were included. The experimental group (E) (N=96) was comprised of individuals sentenced to prison for homicide (N1=32), traffic offences (N2=32) and offences against property (N3=32). The control group (K) (N4=64) included the alcoholics undergoing the hospital treatment at the Alcoholism Department of Neuropsychiatric Hospital Dr Ivan Barbot in Popovaca. The research results indicated that the homicide offenders exhibited lower ego during the latent phase and an overall stronger ego than non-offenders.

Key words: Alcoholic, Ego, Criminal offence

INTRODUCTION

According to Turcin1, none of the factors that encourage the criminal acts is as undeniable and obvious as alcohol. Nevertheless, there are numerous attempts of searching for something that could be classified as "alcoholic personality" or "prealcoholic personality".25 Some authors indicate neuroticism, weak ego, addiction and change in stimuli intensity as significant characteristics of the alcoholic personality. There is numerous evidence of weak ego in alcoholics.612

Erikson1316 describes an alcoholic as an individual whose life course is defined by a negative ego-identity, which reduces and destroys his abilities. Thus, everything that makes the ego stronger contributes to the strengthening of an individual's ego-identity.

Nenadic Sviglin10 states that the alcoholics who began drinking before the age of twenty, and exhibited the antisocial behaviour, showed the highest level of hostile feelings among groups. The psychosocial maturity in latent phase was lower in the group of alcoholics with antisocial behaviour, who began drinking before the age of twenty, than in the following two groups: alcoholics without antisocial behaviour and alcoholics with antisocial behaviour who began drinking after the age of twenty.11

Kozaric Kovacic9 states that the group of aggressive alcoholics showed a significantly lower psychosocial maturity in the latent phase, in contrast to the non-aggressive alcoholics, which indicates the ego development blocking in this phase. A study by the same author showed that delinquent alcoholics exhibited a weaker ego in the latent phase with a significantly higher level of outward hostility than the non-delinquent alcoholics.

The aim of the study

To determine the psychodynamic characteristics of ego and Psychopathologie characteristics of alcoholic personality in respect to the type of criminal offence.

The hypothesis of the study

Alcoholic offenders committing homicide have weaker egos and present more hostile, depressive and anxious personality characteristics.

Sample and method of the study

The study was conducted within the penal system, in the penitentiary in Lipovica and at the Dr Ivan Barbot Neuropsychiatrie Hospital in Popovaca. The study included two groups of subjects.

The experimental group (E) (N=96) was comprised of individuals with prison sentences for homicide (N 1=32), traffic offences (N2=32) and property offences (N3=32). The experimental group was comprised of subjects who had been diagnosed with alcohol dependence during the expert evaluation and were being treated for alcoholism during their incarceration. The subjects had been drinking for at least five years and the clinical assessment of alcohol addiction met the diagnostic conditions according to MKB-IO and DSM-IV criteria.

The control group (K) (N4=64) was comprised of alcoholics who were being treated for alcoholism at the Department for alcohol abuse at the Dr Ivan Barbot Neuropsychiatrie Hospital in Popovaca; they, too, met the diagnostic conditions. …