Teresa Susmaras – What is the Connection Between Impulsivity and Female Violence?

Antisocial personality disorder was defined in the DSM-IV as a consistent disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. It typically begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.

A 1997 study illustrated aggressive inmates with higher levels of anger, impulsivity, poorer performance on neuropsychological tests, and less brain involvement in front cortical areas. Teresa Susmaras studied structural brain imaging analysis extensively at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts.

A study of incarcerated women in 2002 (Hurt and Oltmanns) indicated that antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder were correlated with aggression and impulsivity. Hochhausen, Lorenz and Newman, in another study in 2002, also showed that incarcerated women diagnosed with these disorders scored higher on the Impulsiveness-Monotony Avoidance-Detachment Inventory and behavior task, showing higher degrees of impulsivity.

Historically, women have been far less likely than men to engage in serious, violent antisocial behavior (Moffitt, Caspi, Rutter & Silva, 2010). However, Sommers & Baskin, 1993, and Warren, 2005 have suggested that women who do engage in violent behavior exhibit violence that is more reactive and impulsive compared to violence among men. The Prison Violence Inventory by Warren et al. 2002 was used to measure the self-reported violent behavior of 590 women incarcerated in a maximum security prison in central Virginia. 12 questions were included about violent acts, including making threats, throwing objects, pushing, grabbing or shoving, slapping, kicking, biting, or choking, hitting with the fist, forcing sex on someone, threatening with a weapon, spreading rumors or lies, stealing, or other actions that the inmate considered to be violent. Teresa Susmaras’ dissertation used Levenson’s Self Psychopathy Scale as a self-report survey.