Biology, Development, and Dangerousness
ELIZABETH J. SUSMAN AND
JORDAN W. FINKELSTEIN
The purpose is to present a developmental perspective on biological factors and dangerousness. The developmental perspective proposed is that biological factors and violence can only be understood by considering the dialectical nature of the interactions between physiological and psychological processes and the environmental contexts in which individuals develop. The chapter aims to define domains of behavior relevant to understanding biology and dangerousness; describe biopsychosocial models of dangerousness; present literature on the endocrine and serotonergic systems, autonomic nervous system, and dangerousness; and suggest clinical implications based on what is known about biological processes and dangerousness.
The concept of dangerousness is difficult to define because it entails both psychological and behavioral risks that predispose to physical aggression and violent behavior. Furthermore, violence, aggression, and other forms of antisocial behavior are defined in diverse ways in the literature and tend to refer to constructs rather than specific behaviors. These constructs include antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior, norm breaking, violence, and illegal behavior. In contrast, when biological processes are included in research, measures representing one biological system tend to be considered: Hormones, neurotransmitters, or psychophysiological measures. Thus, conclusions regarding the relationships between interactive biological systems and violence are exceedingly simplistic even though multidimensional behaviors,