Personality traits, personality disorders and sensational interests in mentally disordered offenders
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Purpose. Sensational interests (e.g. an interest in the occult or the methods of violence) in mentally disordered offenders are claimed to signify greater risk of psychopathology, but evidence to support this view is slight. Methods. The relationships between self-reported DSM-IV personality disorder (PD), general personality traits and sensational interests were examined in 155 of 167 consecutively referred offenders to a forensic psychology service. The subscales of the PD and personality trait measures were reduced to the four basic PD/trait dimensions (asocial, antisocial, anxious and anankastic) using confirmatory factor analysis. Results. Those high on the 'antisocial' factor (which was primarily defined by low Agreeableness, low Conscientiousness, and substantial elements of Paranoid, Antisocial and Borderline PD) were more interested in 'violent-occult' and militaristic topics. Conclusions. The aspects of the antisocial factor primarily associated with an interest in sensational and potentially violent topics cover a wide range of putative disorders. However, the factors reflecting asocial, anxious or anankastic disorders do not show a reliable association with measures of sensational interests. These results suggest that the personality dimensions reflecting an interest in 'sensational' topics in mentally disordered offenders are relatively specific.