Psychopathology, trauma and delinquency: Subtypes of aggression and their relevance for understanding young offenders

Hans Steiner, Melissa Silverman, Niranjan S. Karnik, Julia Huemer, Belinda Plattner, Christina E. Clark, James R. Blair, Rudy Haapanen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the implications of an ontology of aggressive behavior which divides aggression into reactive, affective, defensive, impulsive (RADI) or "emotionally hot"; and planned, instrumental, predatory (PIP) or "emotionally cold." Recent epidemiological, criminological, clinical and neuroscience studies converge to support a connection between emotional and trauma related psychopathology and disturbances in the emotions, self-regulation and aggressive behavior which has important implications for diagnosis and treatment, especially for delinquent populations.Method: Selective review of preclinical and clinical studies in normal, clinical and delinquent populations.Results: In delinquent populations we observe an increase in psychopathology, and especially trauma related psychopathology which impacts emotions and self-regulation in a manner that hotly emotionally charged acts of aggression become more likely. The identification of these disturbances can be supported by findings in cognitive neuroscience. These hot aggressive acts can be delineated from planned or emotionally cold aggression.Conclusion: Our findings support a typology of diagnostic labels for disruptive behaviors, such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, as it appears that these acts of hot emotional aggression are a legitimate target for psychopharmacological and other trauma specific interventions. The identification of this subtype of disruptive behavior disorders leads to more specific clinical interventions which in turn promise to improve hitherto unimpressive treatment outcomes of delinquents and patients with disruptive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
StatePublished - Jun 29 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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