Limbic system dysfunction and inventoried psychopathology among incarcerated pedophiles

Nathaniel J. Pallone, Gerald Voelbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study explored relationships between "highly probable" neuropathology in the limbic system (as gauged by clinically elevated scores on the Limbic System Check-list-33, or LSCL-33, a screening index for limbic system dysfunction developed by medical researchers at Harvard and Dartmouth) and inventoried psychopathology (as gauged through scores on the MMPI) among a group of adjudicated pedophiles incarcerated for treatment in a specialized prison for criminal sexual psychopaths in a mid-Atlantic state. Principal findings: Only 33 percent of this sample of incarcerated pedophiles exhibits scores on the LSCL-33 at a level high enough to warrant a medical conclusion of "probable" limbic system dysfunction. When scores on the MMPI are grouped according to critical values for clinically relevant scores on the LSCL-33, significant F ratios in one-way analyses of variance are observed on L, F, K, Hs, D, Hy, Pa, Pt, Sc, and Ma. Mean T scores for "probable" dysfunctionals simultaneously reach elevations at or above the threshold of clinical significance for Pd, Pa, and Sc. On that basis, the categorization psychopathic paranoid schizophrenia readily applies to limbic system dysfunctional child sexual abusers studied in this inquiry, but not to their nondysfunctional counterparts. But significant F ratios are observed neither for the age of the victim(s) in the instant offense(s), for the number of prior arrests for sex offenses, for the number of prior arrests for any and all felony offenses, including sex offenses, nor for the offender's current age. However, a stepwise multiple regression between gross number of prior arrests for any and all offenses (including sex offenses) as the most robust of the indices of past criminal activity and both LSCL-33 and MMPI scores across all offenders represented in this inquiry (i.e., the limbic system dysfunctional, the nondysfunctional, and a mid-range group) proceeds to four steps, achieving a multiple R of .575 and encompassing Pd, Mf, Pa, and LSCL-33 scores as the most efficient interactive post-dictive set. Stepwise multiple regression analyses of past arrest record computed independently for limbic system dysfunctionals and nondysfunctionals progresses among dysfunctionals to seven steps, achieving a multiple R of .867 and encompassing Pd, Hy, Ma, Mf, Si, Pa, and Sc scores as the most efficient interactive post-dictive set; and among nondysfunctionals, to six steps, achieving a multiple R of .797 and encompassing Mf, D, Pt, Hy, Pa, and over-controlled hostility scores as the most efficient interactive post-dictive set. The latter results are interpreted as suggesting that neuropathology and psychopathology interact with and potentiate each other in post-dicting criminal behavior among the pedophiles studied in this inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Psychology
Volume17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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Keywords

  • limbic system dysfunction
  • psychopathology
  • inventoried psychopathology
  • incarcerated pedophiles
  • Incarceration
  • pedophiles
  • neuropathology
  • limbic system
  • limbic system disorders
  • sex offenders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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