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Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Feb;184:118-27.

Predictors of antisocial personality. Continuities from childhood to adult life.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Medical School and Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.



Antisocial behaviour in adult life has its roots in childhood.


To explore the independent and joint effects of childhood characteristics on the persistence of antisocial behaviour into adult life.


A clinical sample of twins who were systematically ascertained in childhood was followed up 10-25 years later. A total of 225 twins were interviewed regarding childhood and adult psychiatric disorder, psychosocial functioning, and psychosocial and cognitive risk factors.


In univariate analyses, childhood hyperactivity and conduct disorder showed equally strong prediction of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and criminality in early and mid-adult life. Lower IQ and reading problems were most prominent in their relationships with childhood and adolescent antisocial behaviour. In multivariate modelling childhood conduct disorder and hyperactivity predicted adult ASPD even when intervening risk factors were accounted for. The number of hyperactive and conduct symptoms also predicted adult outcome.


Childhood disruptive behaviour has powerful long-term effects on adult antisocial outcomes, which continue into middle adulthood. The importance of number of symptoms, the presence of disruptive disorder, and intermediate experiences highlight three areas where interventions might be targeted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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