Demographic and clinical comparison of obsessional followers and offenders with mental disorders

Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Feb;152(2):258-63. doi: 10.1176/ajp.152.2.258.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare certain demographic and clinical variables in a group of obsessional followers and in a group of offenders with mental disorders.

Method: A static group design comprised of a nonrandom group of convenience and a randomly selected comparison group was used. Twenty obsessional followers in custody and 30 offenders with mental disorders in custody were evaluated by psychiatrists and psychologists for court-ordered reasons during their criminal proceedings. Both groups were evaluated during the same period, in the same court diagnostic clinic, and for the same psycholegal reasons. The group of obsessional followers was measured on demographic, clinical, and victim variables. Inferential comparisons that used nonparametric statistics were done between groups on selected demographic and clinical variables.

Results: The obsessional followers were significantly older, more intelligent, and better educated than the offenders. There were no significant differences in DSM-III-R axis I diagnoses. Axis II diagnoses showed significant differences, with the obsessional followers more likely to have a personality disorder other than antisocial personality disorder and less likely to have antisocial personality disorder.

Conclusions: The likelihood of obsessional followers having a nonantisocial axis II personality disorder (related to attachment pathology) distinguishes them from offenders with mental disorders in general. They are also likely to be older, smarter, and better educated, consistent with their resourcefulness and manipulativeness. Idiographic aspects of the obsessional followers further illuminate their psychological defenses and object relations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Delusions / diagnosis
  • Delusions / epidemiology
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Narcissism
  • Obsessive Behavior / diagnosis*
  • Obsessive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Obsessive Behavior / psychology
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Random Allocation
  • Sex Factors