Defining Trauma and Stress Related Disorders in connection to Criminal Behavior

Defining Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders in connection to criminal behavior

Trauma and stress-related disorders are conditions or problems that often manifest as a result of experiencing an event or series of events that cause a significant psychological, physiological, or spiritual impact on the individual. These include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma related disorders such as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). These disorders can show up in various criminal behaviors including violent acts such as rape, murder and assault. At various times it is said that prison inmates are being impacted by ‘life-shattering events’ such as rape, domestic violence, and war. They can also be coping responses to such experiences. Ardino (2016) argues that, as a result of these experiences, individuals can develop physical, psychological or spiritual trauma symptoms that make them more susceptible to external influences causing their behaviors to change and increase their chances of committing delinquent acts against others.      

Studies show that a majority of individuals who have experienced trauma and/or stress related disorders will become involved in some sort of criminal behavior (Ardino, 2016). Inmates also demonstrate post traumatic responses when they are treated unfairly or without dignity. This could be in explicit and subtle ways, such as isolation or humiliation, that may or may not be related to the original trauma that caused their criminal behavior. Inmates with PTSD symptoms may be more likely to act violently out of fear, anger or resentment than the general public.


Ardino, V. (2016). Offending behavior: The role of trauma and PTSD. European Journal of

Psychotraumatology3(1), 18968.

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