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Personality pathology, criminal careers, and disciplinary problems of women in a county jail

Douglas Richard Rau, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The present study was conducted as an evaluation of women in a county jail. Using a combined qualitative and quantitative approach, 49 women were administered the Personality Assessment Inventory and the Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality. Nine women were interviewed regarding their developmental experiences, psychological symptoms, criminal histories, and behavior while incarcerated. Of the nine women, the narrative data of three women are discussed in detail. Results of the study suggest that many women have a range of clinical problems, most commonly alcohol and drug dependence, traumatic stress, depression, and suicidality. Many women also showed evidence of antisocial and borderline personality traits, yet few women had narcissistic or histrionic traits. Personality disordered women did not differ from non-disordered women with respect to the number of disciplinary violations or time spent in solitary confinement. Aggressive women, however, had a greater number of disciplinary violations and spent more time in solitary confinement than non-aggressive women. Neither aggressiveness nor the presence of a personality disorder was related to the seriousness of current criminal charges, or the level of violence associated with those charges. Various themes from the narrative data regarding the relationship between personality disorder, criminal history, and disciplinary problems are discussed. Conclusions and recommendations for reducing the number of incarcerated women are also discussed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Rau, Douglas Richard, "Personality pathology, criminal careers, and disciplinary problems of women in a county jail" (2001). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3027245.