Etiological Issues in the Development of Sociopaths, Criminals, and Impulsive Personalities

  • George E. Vaillant


A recent clipping in a Boston newspaper cited a sociological study suggesting that “peer group influences determine whether a specific youth will become delinquent. Sex, race, social class, a broken home, or inner-city living have relatively little influence.” The study defined delinquency in terms of the 40 percent of youths who have admitted keeping stolen goods and the 50 percent who admitted shoplifting. In the face of such a nonspecific definition, I wondered how these social scientists would regard the patient about whom I had been consulted that morning. This teenage child of two alcoholic parents had in the previous six months stabbed his teacher, pushed a brother out of a third-story window, and been sent to jail for six years for manslaughter. Had he simply fallen in with bad companions?


Antisocial Behavior Impulsive Behavior Criminal Record Biological Father Reform School 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • George E. Vaillant
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Medical School at The Cambridge HospitalCambridgeUSA

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