Personality Characteristics of Alcoholic Criminal Offenders and Non-Offenders

By Palijan, Tija Zarkovic; Kovacevic, Drazen et al. | Alcoholism, July 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Personality Characteristics of Alcoholic Criminal Offenders and Non-Offenders


Palijan, Tija Zarkovic, Kovacevic, Drazen, Kovac, Marina, Turcinovic, Marjeta Knez, Medak, Jelena, Alcoholism


Summary - The research was based on some personality traits of alcoholics, such as special qualities of psychopathological and socio-pathological characteristics of alcoholic offenders according to the type of criminal offence and non-offenders. The research was carried out in prison and hospital system in Popovaca. Two groups of examinees were included. The experimental group (E) (N=96) consisted of persons convicted for homicide (N1=32), traffic offences (N2=32) and offences against property (N3=32). The control group (K) (N4=64) consisted of alcoholics undergoing hospital treatment at the Alcoholism Department of Neuropsychiatric Hospital Dr. Ivan Barbot in Popovaca. There were no evident differences in the examined psychopathological variables among alcoholic offenders except that the offenders against property displayed more aggression than the homicide offenders.

Key words: Alcoholic, Aggression, Criminal offence

INTRODUCTION

It is a very well-known fact that alcoholism is a factor that encourages criminal acts. In literature, there are numerous attempts of finding an answer to the question what is critical for perpetration of criminal offence. As we can see from literature research there are numerous factors that define if a person is going to commit a criminal offence.1 There are numerous likely characteristics in alcoholics:1-4 psychopathic traits, antisocial behavior, hostility as a sign of weak impulse control, impulsivity, low frustration tolerance, satisfaction with short-term awarding, difficulties in maintaining adequate objective relationships, problems with sexual identity and negative self image.56

Antisocial personality disorder is frequently connected with alcoholism. Cloninger7,8 has observed adopted sons of alcoholics. Patient's subgroup type 2 had personality characteristics that show great dependence on awarding, excessive injury avoidance and low desire for acquiring new experience. It has been shown that type 2: subgroup is characterized by early alcoholic behavior, depression, suicidal tendencies and unrestrained physical violence.7,8 Results from Von Knorring and associates9 showed that type 2 alcoholics are anxious, verbally aggressive; less socialized and inhibited on the level of aggression as opposed to type 1 alcoholics. Regarding the psychopathic factors, type 2 alcoholics are significantly different from both type 1 and from healthy volunteers.

Kozaric Kovacic10 states that the group of aggressive alcoholics showed markedly lower psychosocial maturity in the latent phase in comparison with non-aggressive alcoholics with significantly higher level of outward hostility than non-delinquent alcoholics. In one research11 the »classic« alcoholic personality profile was obtained. It showed that there are no significant differences in the personality traits of alcoholic offenders and non-offenders, except considering the area of aggression. The generalization of these conclusions requires reviewing in future research.

The aim of the study was to determine the psychopathological characteristics of alcoholic personality regarding the type of criminal offence. Hypothesis of the study is that alcoholic homicide offenders show more hostile, depressive and anxious personality characteristics.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS

The study was conducted in the penal system, in Penitentiary in Lipovica and in Neuropsychiatrie hospital »Dr Ivan Barbot« in Popovaca. It included two groups of subjects.

Experimental group (E) (N=96) consisted of individuals sentenced for homicide (N1=32), traffic offences (N2=32) and property offences (N3=32). Experimental group consisted of subjects who had been diagnosed with alcohol dependence through expert evaluation and were subjected to treatment of alcoholism in their penal institutions. The subjects had been drinking for at least 5 years and, with the clinical assessment of alcohol dependence, they met the diagnostic criteria according to MKB-10(12) and DSM-IV.

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