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Animal abuse, violence towards humans, and psychopathy


Actions that mistreat or kill any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment, will be seen by many people as a clear indication that the person resorting to them is mentally disturbed and may well be capable of committing violence towards humans with the same ease. Actually, many studies have found a link between animal abuse and various forms of violence. Additionally, one of them investigated in detail its relationship to psychopathic tendencies.

As one Swiss study demonstrates, people who abused animals as children are 3 times more likely to commit serious acts of violence during their lifetime, such as robbery, snatching, or assault[1]. And another study, conducted on two samples of women, showed a link between a propensity to abuse animals and proactive aggression, sadism, psychopathic predispositions, and callous-unemotional traits[2]. About 60% of individuals who have witnessed or perpetrated animal cruelty as children also report experiences with child maltreatment or domestic violence. As it turns out, animal cruelty is a “red flag” for family violence[3]. Finally, according to various studies, between 23% and 77% of households where intimate partner violence occurs also show the presence of animal abuse (and if we add threats of abuse in addition to actual abuse, we get between 21% and 89% of such households)[4].

People who abuse animals have higher average psychopathy scores. The torture of animals has the strongest association with psychopathy. The average PPTS (Psychopathic Personality Traits Scale) score for individuals who committed it was 13.04 points, while for those who did not torture animals, it was 10.19 points (the average difference was 2.85 points). Killing animals comes next (the average difference was 2.65 points), followed by harming animals (the average difference was 2.34 points)[5].

We can confidently state that a greater propensity to commit violence towards humans is indeed associated with animal abuse. There is also a significant association with psychopathic predispositions. Particular attention should be paid to the impairments in the violence inhibition mechanism, which some researchers attribute to the inability of certain individuals to recognize animal distress as well as their callous and disregardful attitude towards them[2]. Therefore, if some individuals abuse animals, it is worth considering how they will behave towards other people and whether they need to receive treatment for violence inhibitor dysfunction and psychopathic predispositions.

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1) Lucia, S., & Killias, M. (2011). Is animal cruelty a marker of interpersonal violence and delinquency? Results of a Swiss National Self-Report study. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 93–105. doi:10.1037/a0022986
2), 2) Ireland, J. L., Birch, P., Lewis, M., Mian, U., & Ireland, C. A. (2021). Animal Abuse Proclivity Among Women: Exploring Callousness, Sadism, and Psychopathy Traits. Anthrozoös, 35(1), 37–53. doi:10.1080/08927936.2021.1944560
3) DeGue, S., & DiLillo, D. (2008). Is Animal Cruelty a “Red Flag” for Family Violence? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(6), 1036–1056. doi:10.1177/0886260508319362
4) Cleary, M., Thapa, D., West, S., Westman, M., Kornhaber, R. (2021). Animal abuse in the context of adult intimate partner violence: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 61. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2021.101676
5) Renegar, A. (2023). Animal Abuse and Psychopathy: Examining Psychopathic Personality Traits in both Animal Abusers and Non-Abusers. University of Northern Colorado. Master's Theses. 276.
Last modified: 2024/06/08 02:03 by Volunto

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