Researchers define specific neuropsychological profile of alcoholic abusers

A Psychology and Neuroscience team of the University of Valencia has defined the specific neuropsychological profile of men with a history of violence against women in couple relationships who show several patterns of alcohol consumption. The study, published in Alcohol magazine, seeks to facilitate adherence to treatment, as well as the detection of the chances of a relapse of abusers who are brought before a court.

In the research, carried out by the doctorate student Sara Vitoria and professors ángel Romero, Marisol Lila and Luis Moya, of the Psychobiology and Social Psychology departments of the University of Valencia, three groups of men have been compared. Two of them sentenced for gender violence, one with high and one with low alcohol consumption, respectively, and a third group consisting of men with no criminal records.

The results of the study have shown that abusers with excessive and continued alcohol consumption show a greater number of deficits in executive functions. Thus, a greater mental rigidity, a deficit of planning and capacity of greater inhibition, as well as a deficient attention span and lower work memory stands out.

Another of the conclusions published in the article "Differential cognitive profiles of intimate partner violence perpetrators based on alcohol consumption" is that these men have more difficulties to empathize and recognize facial emotions on their partners face than non-alcohol consumers and non-violent ones.

"The obtained results are essential to develop intervention programs adapted to these particularities, which would be an improvement in their effectiveness", emphasizes Sara Vitoria, who points out the importance of the need for interventions in which the neuropsychological profile of abusers is taken into account to improve their effectiveness.

The end aim of the investigation is to create a more complete and accurate assessment of the chance of relapse, which is of utmost importance when a quick decision has to be made in the hours following the moment abusers are brought before a court. In addition, the results can also help prevent gender-based violence because, thanks to the analysis of executive functions and impulsivity, it would be easier to detect individuals more likely to commit such crimes.

There are currently few studies that have analyzed the neuropsychological characteristics of men sentenced for gender violence and, even less, those that delve into the role of alcohol.

Methodology

100 men divided into three groups voluntarily participated in the study: sentenced for gender violence with high and low alcohol consumption and without criminal records. The investigation, which was carried out during three consecutive sessions at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Valencia, consisted of several interviews with volunteers conducted by specialists, in which it was determined that their profile was the best for the neuropsychological tests. Some of the conditions were the conviction for gender violence with less than two years' imprisonment and without criminal records and not having any mental illness diagnosed.

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