Personality disorders and violence

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2008 Jan;21(1):84-92. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3282f31137.


Purpose of review: To review the most recent literature on the relationship between personality disorders and violent behavior. The review does not aim to address the issue of a possible etiological connection between previously being the victim of violent acts and later developing a personality disorder.

Recent findings: Recent data suggest that personality disorders, especially antisocial and borderline, are strongly related to the manifestation of violent acts. Substance abuse is another strong factor which could act either independently or additively. Biological factors seem to constitute a risk factor for violent behavior independently of personality. Although intelligence does not seem to be related to violence, some patients may manifest specific cognitive deficits. The ethical and legal questions posed by the above correlations are difficult to answer, and research has not yet provided enough data on this issue.

Summary: The most recent data support the relationship between antisocial personality and violence, especially when substance abuse is also present, although the presence of confounding factors in the diagnostic criteria suggest caution in the interpretation of the literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*