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How to conceptualized personality and functioning and its prediction of aggressive and antisocial behaviors.



What if a person’s characteristic ways of thinking and behaving cause significant distress to the self or others? What if the person can’t change this way of relating to the world and is unhappy? We might consider this person to have a personality disorder. Unlike many of the disorders, personality disorders are chronic; they do not come and go but originate in childhood and continue throughout adulthood.
Because these chronic problems affect personality, they pervade every aspect of a person’s life. For example, if a person is overly suspicious, this trait will affect almost everything he or she does, including their employment (they may change jobs often if they believes coworkers conspire against them), their relationships (they may not be able to sustain a lasting relationship if they can’t trust anyone) and even where they lives, specifically in the case of women (they may move often if they suspects their landlords out to get them). Most of us are sometimes suspicious of others and a little paranoid, overly dramatic, too self–involved, or reclusive. Fortunately these characteristics do not last long or are not overly intense; they haven’t significantly impaired how we live and work.

People with personality Disorders, however, display problem characteristics great emotional pain for themselves, others, or both. Their difficulty, then, can be seen as one of the degree rather than kind. The distinction between problems of degree and problems of kind is usually described in terms of dimensions instead of categories.

The issue that continues to be debated in the field is whether personality disorders are extreme versions of otherwise normal personality variations (dimensions) or ways of relating that are different from psychologically healthy behavior (categories) (Widiger & Trull, 2007). You can see the difference between dimensions and categories in everyday life. For example, we tend to look at gender categorically. Our society views us as being in one category- “female”- or the other- “male”. Yet we also look at gender in terms of dimensions. For example, we know that “maleness” and “femaleness” are partly determined by hormones. We could identify people along testosterone, estrogen or both dimensions and rate them on a continuum of maleness and femaleness rather than in the absolute categories of male or female. We also often label people’s size categorically, as tall, average, or short. But height, too, can be viewed dimensionally, in inches or centimeters.

Although no general consensus exists about what the basic personality dimensions might be, there are several contenders (south et al, 2011). One of the more widely accepted is called the 5 factor model, or the “Big five” and is taken from work on normal personality (Hopwood & Thomas, 2013; Mccrae & Costa Jr., 2008).

In this model people can be rated on a series of personality dimensions, and the combination of five components describes why people are so different. The Major 5 factors or dimensions of the personality are Extroversion (talkative, assertive and active versus silent, passive and reserved); Agreeableness kind, trusting and warm versus hostile, selfish and mistrustful); Conscientiousness (organized thorough and reliable versus careless, negligent and unreliable); Neuroticism (even-tempered versus nervous, moody, and temperamental); and openness to experience (imaginative, curious and creative versus shallow and imperceptive) (McCrae & Costa Jr, 2008). On each dimension people are rated high, low or somewhere between.

Here is the question how to conceptualized personality and functioning and its prediction of aggressive and antisocial behavior?

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder tend to have long histories of violating the rights of others (Hare et al., 2012). They are often described as being aggressive because they take what they want, indifferent to the concerns of other people. Lying and cheating seem to be second nature to them, and often they appear unable to tell the difference between the truth and the lies they make up to further their own goals. They show no remorse or concern over the sometimes devastating effects of their actions. Substance abuse like use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs etc. Occurring in 60% of people with aggressive and antisocial behavior and it appears to be lifelong pattern among these individuals.

Antisocial Personality behavior have had a number of names over the years. It includes moral insanity, Egopathy, Sociopathy and Psychopathy. The most researched personality traits are aggressive and antisocial and psychopathy.

In the study of almost 1,000 children (White, Moffitt, and Silva, 1989), beginning at the age 5, to see what predicted antisocial behavior at age 15. They found that of the 5 year-olds determined to be at higher risk for later delinquent behavior, 16% did indeed have run-ins with the law by the age of15 and 84% did not. What distinguished these two groups? In general, the at risk children with lower IQs were the ones who got in trouble. This suggests that having a higher IQ may help protect some people from developing more serious problems, or may at least prevent them from getting caught. Some aggressive or antisocial function quite successfully in certain segments of society, for example, politics, business, and in entertainment.

In summary, the overall results in this study highlights the assessment of behavioral emotional and cognitive dysregulation when attempting to understand the underlying factors of aggressive and antisocial behavior in detained youth. The structure of personality in detained children and youth may best be conceptualized in a hierarchical way, where there one large higher order factor of behavioral, cognitive and emotional dysregulation. Further these three second order factors may break into Big five personality traits.


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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