Personality Disorder and Criminal Behaviour

What Is the Nature of the Relationship?

Sophie Davison; Aleksandar Janca


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(1):39-45. 

In This Article

Motivation for Offending in Personality Disorder

Gudjonsson et al.[17•] examined the link between personality disorder and offending in a slightly different way by examining the relationship between motivation for offending, axis I clinical syndromes, personality disorder (axis II) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 196 prisoners. The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory and Offending Motivation Questionnaire were completed by 196 prisoners. Each type of motivation (financial, provocation, excitement and compliance) had a specific relationship with axis I and axis II disorders. Antisocial and sadistic personality disorders were significantly correlated with financial and provocation motivations. Sadistic and dependent personality disorders correlated significantly with excitement motivation; and avoidant, dependent and paranoid personality disorders correlated significantly with compliance motivation. However, hierarchical multiple regressions showed that personality disorders did not predict motivation for offending beyond that of axis I clinical syndromes and ADHD symptoms. Drug dependence and ADHD symptoms were the most powerful predictors of financial motivation, alcohol of provocation and anxiety of compliance motivation. The authors conclude that this underscores the importance of drug and alcohol dependence, anxiety and ADHD symptoms in predicting the motivation for offending.

This is further support for suggesting that simply having a diagnosis of personality disorder per se does not explain offending behaviour. To understand the link between personality disorder and different offending behaviours one has to look at the associated co-morbid symptoms, including substance misuse, as well as the actual traits displayed and how these interact in particular circumstances to make it more likely the individual will choose to engage in a particular behaviour.


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