Concept of the Month -- March 2006

Neurotic Features in the Individual with an Antisocial Personality Disorder

Over the years, I have evaluated male and female offenders, juveniles and adults, who had features of their personality which best would be classified as neurotic. They have intense fears of heights, of the dark, or of water. These fears originated during childhood and persisted into adulthood. The individuals, true to their character, did not want others to know about them. To acknowledge being afraid is to be "sissy," "lame," or "weak." Nonetheless, most endeavored to avoid heights, slept with night lights, and avoided bodies of water. A few were counterphobic, rushing to embrace the very thing they feared.

Such neurotic features have nothing to do with the individual's criminality. One can have cancer and an ear infection.. The two conditions coexist but are not causally linked together. So it is with neuroticism. One can have a criminal personality and have neurotic fears. One does not cause another. And treating the neurotic fears will not alter the criminal thinking.

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