Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health

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Volume 29 Issue 2 (April 2019), Pages 69-130

Does emotion matter? The role of alexithymia in violent recidivism: A systematic literature review (pages 94-110)

Abstract Background Several variables have been evidenced for their association with violent reoffending. Resultant interventions have been suggested, yet the rate of recidivism remains high. Alexithymia, characterised by deficits in emotion processing and verbal expression, might interact with these other risk factors to affect outcomes. Aim Our goal was to examine the role of alexithymia as a possible moderator of risk factors for violent offender recidivism. Our hypothesis was that, albeit with other risk factors, alexithymia increases the risk of violent reoffending. Method We conducted a systematic literature review, using terms for alexithymia and violent offending and their intersection. Results (a) No study that directly tests the role of alexithymia in conjunction with other potential risk factors for recidivism and actual violent recidivism was uncovered. (b) Primarily alexithymia researchers and primarily researchers into violence have separately found several clinical features in common between aspects of alexithymia and violence, such as impulsivity (total n = 24 studies). (c) Other researchers have established a relationship between alexithymia and both dynamic and static risk factors for violent recidivism (n = 16 studies). Conclusion Alexithymia may be a possible moderator of risk of violent offence recidivism. Supplementing offenders' rehabilitation efforts with assessments of alexithymia may assist in designing individually tailored interventions to promote desistance among violent offenders.

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