The study was published in Psychology and Law Magazine.
According to experts, today, amid scientific attention to criminals with severe mental disorders, pro-aggressive personality factors in people with borderline psychological anomalies are still under-studied. Among the accused, personality disorders and organic mental disorders are the most frequent anomalies.
It’s believed in the professional environment that personality disorder is not a disease, but a stable character pathology leading to a partial or even complete loss of an individual’s ability to adapt to conditions in society.
In contrast, organic mental disorders are characterised by CNS dysfunctions or brain damage, which, however, don’t exclude sanity.
According to scientists, unlike simplified models that use only one group of factors, modern models of explaining aggression consider behaviour as a complex interaction of personal (pro and anti-aggressive) and situational factors. The MSUPE study developed and refined the contemporary paradigm of aggression research.
“The study has shown that in offenders with a personality disorder, there are more pro-aggressive factors, while factors for suppressing aggression are under-developed. The opposite is true for mentally healthy criminals. In offenders with an organic mental disorder, a lack of suppressing factors has been revealed, while the traits that contribute to aggression are unexpressed”, says Farit Safuanov, Head of the Department of Clinical and Forensic Psychology at the Faculty of Legal Psychology at MSUPE.
The scientists considered such personality traits as demonstrativeness, excitability, immaturity, high self-esteem, self-centeredness and some others as pro-aggressive factors. Anti-aggressive factors included such tendencies as a tendency toward socially acceptable behaviour, anxiety, control of desires, fear of punishment, guilt, as well as the ability to empathise, among others.
The study also showed that for individuals with personality disorders who showed criminal aggression in psycho-traumatic situations, this behaviour was due not only to a personal predisposition but also to a reaction to external influences. The activation of psychological defence mechanisms aimed at smoothing out psycho-traumatic effects was also discovered.
Offenders with an organic mental disorder are characterised by a predominance of offences caused by various situational factors, both psycho-traumatic and non-psycho-traumatic, while intentional aggression is least characteristic of them.
The study involved 325 people accused of personal crimes, including both mentally healthy individuals and those with personality disorders and organic mental disorders.