Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Warsaw, Poland
Introduction: According to epidemiologic data, child molesting and rapes are the most prevalent sexual crimes in Poland. Worldwide studies suggest that 40-90% of rapists and 30-40% of pedophilic child molesters commit their crimes after alcohol consumption.
Aim of the study: To characterize the group of alcohol-dependent sexual offenders in terms of decision making, emotional processing and psychosocial factors.
Material and methods: The study population comprised four groups of subjects: alcohol dependent sexual offenders (ADSO, n=24), non alcohol-dependent sexual offenders (NASO, n=65), alcohol-dependent patients (AD, n=76), and healthy control group (HC, n=71). Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that included information about demographics, psychopathological symptoms, social support and history of childhood trauma. Decision-making process was evaluated with self-report scales (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale) and computer-based tests (Stop Signal Task, Iowa Gambling Task). Emotional processing was assessed with self-report measures (Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test and Toronto Alexithymia Scale) and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET).
Results: In comparison to AD and HC, alcohol dependent sex offenders were significantly less educated, more frequently reported a history of childhood emotional neglect and physical abuse, were less likely to remain in a stable relationship with a partner. In the group of ADSO most commonly antisocial personality symptoms were revealed. ADSO had longest stop-signal reaction times (highest behavioral impulsivity), and scored significantly lower in RMET test in comparison to both healthy subjects and alcohol-dependent individuals. There were no differences in self-reported levels of emotional intelligence, alexithymia and general psychopathological symptoms. Logistic regression revealed that the most important factors related to sexual offending in the group of alcohol dependent patients were low ability of facial recognition, high level of behavioral impulsivity and history of childhood physical abuse. Additional analysis showed that ADSO were significantly more likely to be sentenced for sexual offending more than once when compared to NASO.
Conclusion: Low ability of facial recognition, high level of behavioral impulsivity as well as experience of childhood physical abuse are the most important risk factors of sexual offending in the group of alcohol dependent patients.