Anti-Social Personality Disorder (known as ASPD) is characterized as a behavioral pattern of violating others’ fundamental rights, lack of empathy, impulsiveness and aggression. Researchers believe that in prisons, 40 to 70 percent of the inmates suffer from ASPD compared to 1 to 3 percent in the general population outside prison walls.
Biologist and psychiatrists are becoming more and more convinced that ASPD is hereditary. Research conducted on identical twins may confirm this belief. It was found that at least 50 percent of cases diagnosed as ASPD originated in the genes of one of the patient’s parents.
Researchers from Finland, the UK and the United States examined the DNA samples of 794 Finnish prison inmates. 568 were found to be ASPD positive. After comparing the DNA samples of those 568 people to a control group of ordinary and normative people, it was discovered that there are basically 4 mutations in chromosome no. 6 that may increase the likelihood of suffering from ASPD by 1.5 times.
We have to bear in mind that this research encompassed people from Finland only and so it may not represent people from other countries. In addition, the findings are inconclusive and cannot be used to predict the likelihood of a child becoming a criminal during adulthood. In other words, defendants will not be able to raise the genetic factor as a line of defense in court.
However, this is the first time that scientists have found evidence that genetics plays an important role in a personality disorder that is not considered mental illness. The future may reveal more conclusive evidence regarding the connection between hereditary and the tendency to criminal behavior.
Maybe one day we will be able to get rid of crime through simple gene therapy. Until then, we will have to rely on the police.
1) Harvard Medical School – What is ASPD
2) The Australian Institute of Criminology – The connection between crime and genetics
Antisocial Personality Disorder