In a 2008 review paper, Adrian Raine discusses the “genes-to-brain-to antisocial behavior” hypothesis. In particular he points out that a polymorphism of the MAO-A gene appears in violent individuals. MAO-A is responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with antisocial behavior, and Raine points out a study by Connor et al (2003) that found a causal relationship between violence and low serotonin. If this is true, and as Raine points out, perhaps we could treat antisocial behavior with drugs that promote serotonin, such as Prozac.
One of the points I found the most interesting was Raine’s suggestion that we are a society that would prescribe drugs for numerous other aberrant behaviors, but not for antisocial behaviors.
It is not hard to see why we would rather not treat violent behavior with drugs. Whether the violence came from a sick or a sane person, we still want to hold them accountable and perhaps exact revenge.
But perhaps pathological violence should be subject to a treatment plan?