Vol. 5, No. 2, 1999 Page 4

High testosterone a risk for sociopathy?

Growing evidence suggests that high testosterone levels play a role in some criminal behavior (see related articles, Crime Times, 1998, Vol. 4, No. 2, Page 6 and 1995, Vol. 1, No. 3, Page 2), particularly when other risk factors such as low socioeconomic status are present. E. G. Stalenheim and colleagues add to this evidence with a study implicating high testosterone levels in antisocial behavior and one type of alcoholism.

Stalenheim et al. measured serum levels of free testosterone, total testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG, which influences total testosterone concentration) in 61 men undergoing forensic psychiatric examinations. All subjects had been “det toxed” from drugs and alcohol while in prison or hospitalized.

The researchers say that high concentrations of total testosterone and SHBG were related to type II alcoholism (a strongly genetically influenced type of alcoholism seen primarily in males, and associated with earlier onset, a more severe course, and crim minality). In addition, they say, total testosterone and SHBG were related to antisocial personality disorder and to socially deviant behavior as reflected by scores on the Psychopathy Checklist, and free testosterone was strongly associated with the psyc chopathy-related scales of the Karolinska Scales of Personality.


“Testosterone as a biological marker in psychopathy and alcoholism,” E. G. Stalenheim, E. Eriksson, L. von Knorring, and L. Wide, Psychiatry Research, Vol. 77, No. 2, February 1998, pp. 79-88. Address: E. G. Stalenheim, Dept. of Forensic Psychiatry y, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.

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