Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire data on alcoholic violent offenders: specific connections to severe impulsive cluster B personality disorders and violent criminality

Tikkanen, Roope; Holi, Matti; Lindberg, Nina; Virkkunen, Matti
January 2007
BMC Psychiatry;2007, Vol. 7, p36
Academic Journal
Background: The validity of traditional categorical personality disorder diagnoses is currently reevaluated from a continuous perspective, and the evolving DSM-V classification may describe personality disorders dimensionally. The utility of dimensional personality assessment, however, is unclear in violent offenders with severe personality pathology. Methods: The temperament structure of 114 alcoholic violent offenders with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) was compared to 84 offenders without ASPD, and 170 healthy controls. Inclusion occurred during a court-ordered mental examination preceded by homicide, assault, battery, rape or arson. Participants underwent assessment of temperament with the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ) and were diagnosed with DSM-III-R criteria. Results: The typical temperament profile in violent offender having ASPD comprised high novelty seeking, high harm avoidance, and low reward dependence. A 21% minority scored low in trait harm avoidance. Results, including the polarized harm avoidance dimension, are in accordance with Cloninger's hypothesis of dimensional description of ASPD. The low harm avoidance offenders committed less impulsive violence than high harm avoidance offenders. High harm avoidance was associated with comorbid antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Conclusion: Results indicate that the DSM based ASPD diagnosis in alcoholic violent offenders associates with impulsiveness and high novelty seeking but comprises two different types of ASPD associated with distinct second-order traits that possibly explain differences in type of violent criminality. Low harm avoidance offenders have many traits in common with high scorers on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). Results link high harm avoidance with broad personality pathology and argue for the usefulness of self-report questionnaires in clinical praxis.


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