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Int J Law Psychiatry. 2011 Sep-Oct;34(5):374-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and criminal responsibility.

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Netherlands Institute for Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology (NIFP), Department of Research and Development, The Netherlands.


The present study empirically investigates whether personality disorders and psychopathic traits in criminal suspects are reasons for diminished criminal responsibility or enforced treatment in high security hospitals. Recently, the tenability of the claim that individuals with personality disorders and psychopathy can be held fully responsible for crimes has been questioned on theoretical bases. According to some interpretations, these disorders are due to cognitive, biological and developmental deficits that diminish the individual's accountability. The current article presents two studies among suspects of serious crimes under forensic evaluation in a Dutch forensic psychiatric observation clinic. The first study examined how experts weigh personality disorders in their conclusions as far as the degree of criminal responsibility and the need for enforced forensic psychiatric treatment are concerned (n=843). The second study investigated associations between PCL-R scores and experts' responsibility and treatment advisements (n=108). The results suggest that in Dutch forensic practice, the presence of a personality disorder decreased responsibility and led to an advice for enforced forensic treatment. Experts also take characteristics of psychopathy concerning impulsivity and (ir)responsibility into consideration when judging criminal accountability. Furthermore, they deem affective deficiencies sufficiently important to indicate suspects' threat to society or dangerousness and warrant a need for forensic treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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