Friday, 21 December 2012

Inside the mind of a rapist: Genes, environment and anti-social personality disorder make a deadly concoction of a criminal brain

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 20: What makes a man rapist? As the nation debates the
need for death sentence for rapists, geneticists and psychiatrists
point out that it is a deadly concoction of genes, anti-social
personality disorder and environment that brings out the animal in a
man to commit serious crimes like rape.

The environment factor adds fuel to the fire hidden in people with
crime genes and anti-social personality disorder. Medication and
counselling can check people carrying crime genes or affected by
personality disorder from committing crimes. The environment factor
can only be controlled through stringent laws and fear of severe
punishment.

Research studies conducted by the city-based Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology (CCMB) revealed that certain people carry certain
changes in the gene called androgen receptors (AR). It is the short
repeat of CAG (cytosine, adenosine and guanine) in the gene that makes
a person prone to crimes like murder and rape. Psychogenetic analysis
of a rapist’s mind reveals that it is the environment that plays a key
role in activating the genes and anti-social personality disorder in
the person.

On an average, the CAG repeats 21 times in normal people and 18 or
less number of times in those with criminal bent of mind. CCMB senior
scientist Dr K Thangaraj conducted the first-ever study on criminals
from Indian subcontinent involving about 400 people convicted for rape
or murder and both. “Our study suggested that reduced CAG repeats in
the AR gene are associated with criminal behaviour,” he pointed out.

Senior psychiatrist Dr MS Reddy of Asha Hospital told this
correspondent that environmental factors like alcohol and drug abuse
give a potent combination to people carrying the crime genes or
anti-social personality disorder. “They also hold the notion that they
can easily get away with the crime. When a human is alone, he is a
gentleman. But in a mob, he takes to mob mentality, particularly if he
is under the influence of intoxicants,” Dr Reddy added explaining the
factors behind the gang rapes.

Dr Minhaj Nasirabadi, consultant psychiatrist and professor of
psychiatry, Apollo Hospitals, blames incidents of rapes and other
crimes on what he called “modelling” wherein those with a criminal
bent of mind watch other criminals go scot-free. “There should be the
fear of law. When people with anti-social personality disorder see
influential people like politicians subverting law, they become bold
and commit the crime,” he said.

Experts argue that the confidence of not being caught should be
defeated with strong legislations and stringent punishments to rein in
people with crime genes and anti-social personality disorder.
Medication and counselling works only to some extent and unless the
environment factor is controlled, crimes continue to take place, they
warn.

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