Kathryn Patricelli, MA Understanding Abuse People have difficulty understanding the motives of people who are involved in abuse. Why people choose to abuse other people is a common question. Why adult people who are being abused choose to stay in abusive relationships is another.
But their behaviour can have far-reaching consequences. Families and friends can be the targets of alcohol-fuelled outbursts, as can other unsuspecting members of the public.
For Caldicott, who regularly sees the results of alcohol-related violence, personality is a key element that separates aggressive drunks from everyone else. People who are more irritable, have poorer anger control, and who display lower levels of empathy towards others when sober, are more likely to be aggressive when they have alcohol in their system.
Gender also has an influence: Out of control There is increasing evidence that subtle variations in brain function mean some people behave worse than others when they have a few drinks. Decision-making, problem solving and reasoning are all jobs the executive system takes control of.
As Heinz explains, it is like the command centre of the brain, that "tells you when to put on the brakes, think about the consequences, steer yourself towards a better long-term outcome.
Instead of taking a few deep breaths when we feel slighted or insulted, we give in to our impulses, which for some are violent. Importantly, some people naturally have poorer executive control than others, and these people, particularly if they are male, are more likely to be aggressive after drinking alcohol.
A lack of executive control could also help to explain why adolescents and young adults are so frequently the perpetrators of violent behaviour when drunk.
It has been shown that our brains continue to develop well into our 20s and that one of the last parts of the brain to develop is the prefrontal lobe, the region responsible for reigning in impulses through executive control.
People who have a dependence on alcohol have a "double whammy" when it comes to executive control, according to Heinz. Each time they consume alcohol, their executive functioning is impaired due to the alcohol in their system.
Studies on rats have shown that, as in humans, only a small proportion of individuals become aggressive when inebriated. The studies also show that rats with lower levels of the brain signalling chemical serotonin, and higher levels of another called dopamine, are more likely to be aggressive when given alcohol.
Such brain signalling chemicals are known as neurotransmitters. Similar changes in both of these neurotransmitters have been found in chronic alcohol drinkers, and it is believed likely they play a role in violence in non-alcoholic binge drinkers too. People with lower serotonin levels are also known to be more likely to consume alcohol to the point of excess.
Since early life trauma and adversity can alter serotonin signalling, these factors have potential to raise the odds of a person having a short temper when drunk.
Alert and alarmed When someone accidentally bumps into you in a crowded bar or at a sporting event, most of us are able to quickly shrug it off as a benign interruption to our day.
But add alcohol to the equation and an innocuous bump can suddenly be interpreted as a serious threat, or even a deliberate act of aggression. Expectations matter For Heinz, one of the most interesting areas of individual difference when it comes to alcohol-related aggression is in what we expect to happen when we get drunk.
Expectations about what behaviour is normal and socially acceptable when alcohol is consumed can be set in place long before we take our first sip of beer. How our parents act when they drink can lay down our first impression of alcohol-related behaviour.
The power of expectation can also play a part in influencing how people behave when they consume different alcoholic drinks, quite apart from the physical impact of differing alcohol concentrations, Heinz believes.
Whether certain drinks, such as those with high levels of sugar or caffeine, help to enhance aggression is unclear, although Heinz notes that alcoholic drinks that contain caffeine can lead people to take more risks than they otherwise would. Curbing violent behaviour With people who are more likely to be aggressive when they drink, one of the greatest challenges for psychologists like Heinz is teaching temper control.
She says that anger management programs are a good start for those who end up seeking help when alcohol gets them into trouble with the law or their families. But when it comes to reducing the number of people turning up at hospital emergency departments due to alcohol-related violence, Caldicott believes limiting overall community alcohol consumption would be of clear benefit.The time for a change in societal consciousness is at hand.
By focusing our resources on the root of the problem, the many people who feel they don’t count, we not only bolster individual and collective lives, we provide a model that others will find difficult to ignore. Importantly, some people naturally have poorer executive control than others, and these people, particularly if they are male, are more likely to be aggressive after drinking alcohol.
People with this disorder do not seem to understand that violence harms other people, and they do not seem to have a conscience that tells them right from wrong. The terms sociopath and psychopath sometimes are used to describe people with antisocial personality disorder.
People frequently resort to violence when, by any measure of practical utility, non-violent means would be more effective. As Baumeister and colleagues noted in the paper ‘Relation of Threatened Egotism to Violence and Aggression’ ().
No religion itself dose not cause violence, its the people that abuse the religion and use it to control what the atheists call "stupid people". These people are trusting in a area in which they shouldn't have to fear being tricked.
Drug use and violence occur together much more often than some people realize. For multiple reasons, some drugs increase a person’s aggressive and violent behavior.
If you or a loved one is struggling with violence related to drug use, please call our toll-free helpline right now.