Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy, tend to be manipulative and impulsive. Those traits positively correlate those individuals to commit violent crime such as felony assault.
Even though it is said that Antisocial Personality Disorder is a genetic problem, there are many environmental factors that trigger the onset of this disorder. One of such triggers is disturbed family relations. When any sort of traumatic events take place in the life of a person, this creates a problem in the normal development of the central nervous system that in turn leads to a disturbed pattern of hormone production. Researchers have discovered a number of neurotransmitters that might have a role to play in the development of ASPD in an individual, and one of such hormones is serotonin (Black, 2011).
ASPD can be labeled as a common disorder as around 3 to 30% of the psychiatric out patients come with this problem (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). On the other hand, the number of people who suffer from this disorder is even greater in some specific populations like prisoners, since these people are inclined towards doing violent acts. According to a literature review of the year 2002, a study on the mental disorders that developed in the prisoners concluded that 47% of the male prisoners, meanwhile 21% of the female prisoners had ASPD. Likewise the prevalence of this disorder is seen to be greater among the people who are addicted to alcohol or any other drug (Fazel and Danesh, 2002). A direct link has been established between people who are dependent on alcohol and who develop this disorder (Moeller and Dougherty, 2006). Most of the studies have demonstrated a strong correlation of this personality disorder with many crimes that come under the definition of felony assault. We shall discuss this correlation in the subsequent paragraphs.
Violation of the personal space of a human being is what is defined as an assault. A simple assault is characterized by any inappropriate violence of the personal space of a human being, without the sole intent of causing injury to the other person and is normally seen as a misdemeanor. On the other hand, Felony's assault is characterized by four elements and is therefore more intense in nature. These four elements include ability, attempt, intent and action of the person who causes assault to the other. Therefore, a huge number of crimes can come under this definition and may or may not include a weapon. The criteria or definition of felony assault also differs with the state in which the individual might have been present when the assault took place.
Characteristics of ASPD: Violence and Impulsive Behavior
According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition, ASPD can be characterized by violation of the rights of the other people along with a pervasive disrespect and disregard for them. Such a personality type has actually become quite prevalent in the society. A student of Aristotle, who was the ancient Greek philosopher, Theophrastus had described a type of personality and named people with such a personality as the "unscrupulous people." In the definition of Theophrastus of such a personality, some of the main elements of the recent concept of ASPD also fit (Millon et al. 1998). The characteristics of the personality of the people who suffer from ASPD strongly correlate with the characteristics of the people who are considered responsible for felony assault.
In the past century, researchers have done a lot of work on this kind of a personality disorder and various names had been assigned to people who had ASPD. Some of the names that these people normally used included psychopathy, moral insanity and sociopathy. Similarly, the characteristics of ASPD that are considered to be the main elements of this disorder or psychopathy have changed from focusing on the inadequacy of emotional attachment in the relationships of people with one another to focusing on the external behaviors that particularly include impulsive and aggressive behaviors. We shall now look at the criteria that are used to characterize ASPD. Most of the people with this order exhibit a pattern of behaviors starting around the age of 15. People who are labeled as having this disorder have at least three of the behaviors that would be mentioned next. The first one is that these people have a tendency to do criminal acts over and over again. These people are normally deceitful and almost always indulge in fraudulent activities. They have impulsiveness in their behavior and do not regard the safety of other people. These people do not normally hesitate to pick fights with others and cause assaults to them. Irresponsibility and lack of remorse is also a feature of the personality of such people. Therefore, the correlation of commitment of crimes and this personality disorder is quite evident.
Meanwhile, there are numerous studies that can be found about the character of the people who indulge in criminal activities and cause felony's assault to other people. The findings of these studies are consistent with the characteristics of the people who have this personality disorder. Therefore, it can be rightly said that there is a positive relationship between ASPD and commitment of felony's assault.
Since there is no specific diagnosis of this disorder and diagnosis is only made according to the DSM-IV criteria, it is important that three or more of the aforementioned traits should be present in the behaviors of the people who are labeled as having ASPD. As a matter of fact, there is significant variability among the people who are diagnosed with the same disorder. Therefore, there are chances that some of the people who are known to have ASPD may not show violence; on the other hand some of the people with ASPD may have a greater degree of violence in their behavior. As a number of researches have taken place on this disorder, it has been concluded that patients of ASPD who have a past history of violence that started in childhood are likely to differ from the other people who have been diagnosed with ASPD at a later stage, since there are some differences in the behavioral and biological characteristics of both these people. Therefore, the scientists and clinicians consider it helpful to research on the patients with ASPD who show violent behaviors and those who are relatively at peace with themselves and the surroundings.
As discussed earlier that ASPD is not an uncommon disorder and some studies have concluded that its prevalence might be more than many other psychiatric disorders that include manic-depressive disorder. Generally, almost 3% of males and about 1% of females in the overall population fit in the definition of ASPD. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, the prevalence of ASPD is even greater in some particular populations and that include the people who are in prisons. On the other hand, people who are dependent on alcohol or any other drug also have the predisposition to develop this personality disorder. Therefore, this implies that there is a link between violent offenders and ASPD, as well as alcohol dependence and ASPD. Therefore, when studying this disorder, it is also useful to keep in mind the violent behavior of the people as well as their dependence on alcohol or other drugs, since this dependence makes them even more prone to indulge in criminal activities like Felony assault.
Some of the features that a person might exhibit as a part of ASPD could also be a result of alcohol or any other drug intoxication. Therefore, one should always make sure that such a factor is excluded when studying the people with ASPD. As we have discussed briefly before that it is not important that all the people who are diagnosed with this disorder would be violent in their behavior. There are many people who seem to be very calm and normal, and yet these people suffer from this personality disorder. Since we do not have any specific lab tests that would determine whether or not a particular person is behaving violently, we cannot confirm the cause behind this violent behavior. It could be because of APSD or because that person is dependent on alcohol or any other drug.
The Reason behind the Violent Behavior
As mentioned earlier, people who suffer from ASPD are the ones who have the tendency to cause harm to other people. This harm may or may not include Felony assault as some of these people are not as violent as the others. At this point, it is important for us to note as why these people have the tendency to hurt others. This hurt could be physical as well as verbal. Moreover, these people also have the tendency to cause financial harm to others since they indulge in fraudulent activities. Some of the psychiatrists also term these people as sociopaths as they have an intrinsic desire to cause harm to other people. Most of the researchers agree that this disorder has genetic roots. These people…