Psychopathic characteristics are related to high basal urinary oxytocin levels in male forensic patients

Ian Mitchell, Winike Smid, Jelle Troelstra, Edwin Wever, Toni E. Ziegler, Anthony Beech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cerebral levels of oxytocin, elevated by intranasal administration, can increase trust, empathy and altruism, and decrease fear. We hypothesised that low levels of these characteristics (found in some personality-disordered forensic patients), would be associated with reduced oxytocin levels. Aims: To assess whether patients, with psychopathic characteristics associated with selfishness, callousness and the remorseless use of others, plus a chronically unstable, antisocial and socially deviant lifestyle, would show depressed levels of oxytocin. Method: Basal urinary oxytocin levels (an indicator of cerebral oxytocin) were assessed in 47 forensic psychiatric patients. Levels were compared with those in 21 non-patient controls, and correlated with psychopathic characteristics. Results: Oxytocin levels were markedly elevated in the patient sample compared to controls. Levels were also strongly correlated with traits associated with a socially deviant lifestyle. Conclusions: The results point to oxytocin playing a role in antisocial, as well as prosocial behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-318
JournalThe Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Oxytocin
  • psychopathy
  • antisocial behavior


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