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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2018 Dec;46(4):486-497. doi: 10.29158/JAAPL.003792-18. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

A Pilot Study of Motive Control to Reduce Vengeance Cravings.

Author information

1
Dr. Rowe is a Professor, Mr. Kimmel is a Lecturer, Drs. Bellamy and O'Connell are Associate Professors, Dr. Flanagan is a Research Scientist, Dr. Pavlo is an Associate Research Scientist, Dr. Desai is an instructor, Ms. Antunes is Program Coordinator, Ms. Ocasio is a Research Assistant, and Mr. Bal is a Student Intern at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, New Haven, CT. michael.rowe@yale.edu.
2
Dr. Rowe is a Professor, Mr. Kimmel is a Lecturer, Drs. Bellamy and O'Connell are Associate Professors, Dr. Flanagan is a Research Scientist, Dr. Pavlo is an Associate Research Scientist, Dr. Desai is an instructor, Ms. Antunes is Program Coordinator, Ms. Ocasio is a Research Assistant, and Mr. Bal is a Student Intern at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, New Haven, CT.

Abstract

Violence is a serious public health problem in the United States, and a common risk factor for many forms of violence is the perpetrator's motivation to achieve personal justice for past wrongs and injustices. Using a fictional transgression scenario to stimulate revenge feelings, we studied the preliminary efficacy of an intervention designed to mitigate revenge desires among victims of perceived injustice. The intervention consisted of a guided role-play of key figures in the justice system (e.g., victim, prosecutor, defendant, judge, etc.) in an imaginary mock trial of the offender. Study participants' revenge desires toward the perpetrator decreased significantly immediately after the intervention and at a 2-week follow-up interview. Benevolence toward the offender increased immediately postintervention and at a 2-week follow-up interview. These results suggest that the intervention has promise to decrease revenge desires in people who have been victimized, and it potentially opens the door to behavioral health motive control approaches to violence prevention. Findings on the roles of vengeance and the desire for retaliation in relation to violent acts, as well as neuroscience research that suggests a connection between retaliatory aggression and the neural circuitry of anticipated reward and cravings, are discussed. Limitations of this pilot study are also discussed, and recommendations for future research are provided.

PMID:
30563910
DOI:
10.29158/JAAPL.003792-18

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