I have been thinking about people who have acted very badly in this world.  Do you think most of them have backgrounds that include trauma from others?  I am wondering if being treated badly leads many to behave badly, even to break the law.

Yes, there is a large literature, for example, with people in prison that shows many have suffered trauma from other people prior to their crimes and imprisonment.

Here are some references (click on the highlighted text to read the abstract and/or the complete report:

  • Brinded, P., Alexander, M. J., Simpson, I. F., Laidlaw, T. M., Farley, N., & Fiona, M. (2001). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in New Zealand prisons: A national study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 166-173.
  • Collins, J. J., & Bailey, S. L. (1990). Traumatic stress disorder and violent behavior. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 3(2), 203-220.
  • Enright, R.D. Erzar, T.,  Gambaro, M., Komoski, M.C., O’Boyle, J., Reed, G., Song, J.,Teslik, M., Wollner, B., Yao, Z., & Yu, L. (2016).  Proposing forgiveness therapy for those in prison: An intervention strategy for reducing anger and promoting psychological health.  Journal of Forensic Psychology, 1:116.
  • Masuda, M., Cutler, D. L., Hein, L., & Holmes, T. H. (1978). Life events and prisoners. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35(2), 197-203.

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