DYSSOCIAL REACTION

A “socio- pathic” personality disorder in which the individual adopts a delinquent or criminal way of life as a result of distorted moral and social influences.Studies indicate that about 10 per cent of children brought before children’s courts are confirmed delinquents of this type. Most gangsters, racketeers, and other “public enemies” who make a career of criminal activity can also be classified as dyssocial personalities. In contrast to the psychopathic or antisocial personality, the dyssocial individual is not predominantly egocentric and impulsive, but is capable of strong loyalty and warm feeling for others. He is generally a well-integrated personality who can control his behavior and operate effectively within his own group —that is, within the “delinquent subculture.” For this reason dyssocial reaction is sometimes termed adaptive delinquency,” as opposed to “maladaptive delinquency.”Typically, dyssocial individuals have acquired their distorted goals and behavior patterns by identifying with juvenile gangs or adult criminal models in the neighborhood. A large number of them, probably 50 per cent, come from broken homes, and in practically all cases their family life is characterized by neglect, disinterest, extremely harsh or extremely lax discipline, absence of affection, and general disorganization. Few of them, however, develop mental disorders of either a neurotic or psychotic character, probably because they tend to express their tensions in action, are single-minded and not in conflict about the pursuit of their goals, and are accepted and approved in their own social group. The following excerpt from The Jack-Roller, by C. R. Shaw, is a classic illustration of the development of the dyssocial reaction-llustrative Case:When I started to play in the alleys around my home I first heard about a bunch of older boys called the “Pirates.” My oldest brother was in this gang and so I went around with them. There were about ten boys in this gang and the youngest one was eleven and the oldest one was about fifteen.Toni, Sollie, and my brother John were the big guys in the gang. Toni was fifteen and was short and heavy. He was a good fighter and the young guys were afraid of him because he hit them and beat them up. . . . My brother was fifteen and was bigger than Toni and was a good fighter. He could beat any guy in the gang by fighting, so he was a good leader and everybody looked up to him as a big guy. I looked up to him as a big guy and was proud to be his brother. When I started hanging out with the Pirates I first learned about robbin [sic]. The guys would talk about robbin and stealing and went out on “jobs” every night. When I was eight I started to go out robbin with my brother’s gang. We first robbed junk from a junkyard and sometimes from the peddlar. Sometimes we robbed stores. We would go to a store, and while one guy asked to buy something the other guys would rob anything like candy and cigarettes and then run. We did this every day.The gang had a hangout in an alley and we would meet there every night and would smoke and tell stories and plan for robbin. I was little and so I only listened. . . . When I was ten the gang started to robbin stores and homes. We would jimmy the door open and rob the place. I always stayed outside and gave jiggers. The big guys went in and raided the place. They showed me how to pick locks, jimmy doors, cut glass and use skeleton keys and everything to get into stores and houses. Every guy had to keep everything a secret and not tell anybody or he would be beat up and razzed. The police were enemies and not to be trusted. When we would get caught by the police we had to keep mum and not tell a word even in the third degree. ... A stool-pigeon was looked down on and razzed and could not stay in the gang.The guys stuck together and helped each other out of trouble. They were real good pals and would stick up for each other.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "DYSSOCIAL REACTION," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/dyssocial-reaction/ (accessed July 18, 2019).
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