Personality Characteristics of Alcoholic Criminal Offenders and Non-Offenders

By Palijan, Tija Zarkovic; Kovacevic, Drazen et al. | Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research, 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 and Psychiatry Research


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.13

Control group (K) (N4=64) consisted of alcoholics who were subjected to treatment at the alcoholic ward of Neuropsychiatrie hospital Dr Ivan Barbot in Popovaca - they also met the diagnostic criteria.

We have excluded alcoholics with severe physical illnesses, abuse of drugs or other psychotropic substances in the period of one year before the study, those with obvious organic disorders, schizophrenia or affective disorders not related to alcohol, antisocial personality disorder before alcoholism occurred and high primary intellectual dysfunctions. Schizophrenia, mania, depression and antisocial personality disorder were diagnosed according to the DSM-IV criteria.13 The study was implemented between 5th and 10th day after the admission.

For each subject, following measuring instruments were applied:

1. Structured questionnaire of general data.

2. Structured questionnaire of alcohol history. …

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