Clinical neuropsychiatric symptoms in perpetrators of severe crimes against persons

Nord J Psychiatry. 2005;59(4):246-52. doi: 10.1080/08039480500213709.


The objective of the study was to explore the possibility of common signs and symptoms of childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders and personality disorders, especially psychopathy, in a cohort of violent offenders. A structured neuropsychiatric status comprising features recorded in childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders and adult personality disorders was assessed in 89 perpetrators of severe crimes against other persons, analysed for factor structure, and compared to clinical diagnostics of neuropsychiatric disorders and independent assessments of psychopathy rated by the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). One or several childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorders [autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), tics and learning disability] affected the majority of adult offenders. A factor analysis yielded four higher-order problem constellations: Executive Dysfunction, Compulsivity, Social Interaction Problems and Superficiality. All four constellations were positively correlated with life histories of aggression, stressing the clinical importance of these problems in adult forensic psychiatry. Compulsivity and Social Interaction Problems were associated with autistic traits and tics, Executive Dysfunction with AD/HD, conduct disorder and psychopathic as well as autistic traits. Superficiality was a distinct aspect of AD/HD and psychopathic traits, especially the PCL-R factor reflecting interpersonal callousness. Neuropsychiatric disorders and personality disorders such as psychopathy share common symptoms. The various facets of psychopathy are associated with executive dysfunction and empathy deficits with superficial understanding of self, others and the rules of communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*