Aggressivness. Clinical aspects.

Alessandro Bani, Marina Miniati and Mario Di Fiorino

Aggressivness. Clinical aspects.
Violence and diseases


M. Miniati, A. Bani

a) Organic diseases and violence

Episodes of irritability and dysphoria, aggressiveness and explosive reactions without rousing events may happen in the course of some organic mental syndromes, with a variable frequency between them.

Mental retardation

Mental retardation is a condition of subaverage general intellectual functioning that is accompanied by a significant limitation in cognitive, affective, motor and relation functioning. Etiological factors may be primarly biological or primarly psychosocial, even if in 40% of individuals the etiology is unknown. In the literature are generally considered some predisposing factors: a) Heredity: inborn errors of metabolism inherited mostly through autosomal recessive mechanism (e.g., Tay Sachs disease), or chromosomal aberrations (e.g., fragile X syndrome); b) Early alterations of embryonic development due to chromosomal changes as in the Down's syndrome, due to trisomy 21; c) Pregnancy and perinatal problems, as in malnutrition, hypoxia, trauma, infections; d) General medical conditions acquired in infancy such as infections, traumas; e) Environmental influences and other mental disorders that drive to deprivation of linguistic and social stimulation, as in the Autistic Disorder.

We can distinguish (DSM IV, APA; 1994) four degrees of severity: Mild (IQ 50-70), Moderate (IQ 35/40-50/55), Severe (IQ 20/25-35/40), Profound (IQ below 20 or 25). In all of these Mental retardation degrees an Impulse-control disorder and mood swing are present, often accompanied to self injurer behaviour or aggressivity against other people or objects. Patient with Mental retardation presents a low frustration threshold, besides, he is particularly exposed to difficulties and disappointments those come from external world. Often the only way for these persons to protest is to be aggressive, in a incomprehensible way for the other people. Frustration can drive to a feeling tone of irritability and oppositivity, that make the subject not collaborating and reactive toward the attempts of education and socialization. Social adjustment is always compromised, particularly in most severe forms.

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