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Biopsychosocial Treatment of Antisocial and Conduct-Disordered Offenders

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 66 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2002 Pages: 78-82
Henry R. Cellini Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2002
5 pages
This article explores the concepts of character and temperament and discusses biological issues associated with personality development and treatment for antisocial and conduct-disordered offenders.
"Character" refers to the psychological and social reinforcers that impact personality development. Character is formed largely because of the socialization process (learned behavior) that an individual experiences. Temperament, on the other hand, refers to the genetic or innate influences on personality. Cloninger et al. (1993) identified four basic biological dimensions in temperament: novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence. Clinicians use various methods to assess character and temperament, ranging from file review, self-report instruments, and psychological testing to clinical interviews. The importance of distinguishing between the personality factors of temperament and character prior to treatment planning is significant for the ultimate prognosis of any given client. Among mental health professionals there is a growing belief that the effective treatment of antisocial behavior and personality disorders should involve a combination of treatment approaches and modalities, with the integration of supportive interventions, cognitive behavioral interventions, and medication management. General treatment principles are to enhance motivation for change, the integration of multi-modal treatment, the establishment of general and specific treatment goals, and the separation of diagnosis and treatment. The stages of treatment are also discussed. 11 references