Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Fri, 5 May 1995 16:41:38 -0500

The following is a slightly revised copy of my reply to Raoul.

>>Thanks, you cleared up something. But what about antisocial personalities? Can
>>Culture influence or contribute a factor to the individual suffering from this
>>personality disorder? I'm talking here about Culture and Personality.

It's been quite a while since I've read any of the Culture and Personality
stuff... But I can give you an opinion on this. I'm not sure whether I
would call antisocial behavior a personality disorder - since the term and
concept 'antisocial personality' is culturally and socially constructed and
not unproblematically defined. The danger in calling it a personality
disorder is that it tends to suggest that the antisocial person has
something innately wrong with them (since 'personality disorder' suggests
something incurable). However, accepting the term for the moment - I
think I would have to argue that the question of cultural influence in
antisocial personality forces an unqualified 'yes'. I do not mean to say
that there are no chemical and/or physical factors involved. As I'm sure
your aware, human biochemistry and neurology have an awful lot to do with
emotional states and thinking - thus, the cultural environment can cause
changes in chemistry etc, which may in turn amplify antisocial activity and
thinking and vice-versa for the chemical environment. Culture, biology
and everything that effects human beings all seem to blend together to
produce causality - sometimes it is impossible to pull apart and make sense
of different lines of causality. On the other hand, it is also likely that
causality is always a product of biased reflection upon historical events.
'Antisocial personality', for example is such a general term which applies
to so many different kinds of behaviour (ie - anti-altruistic behavior,
reclusiveness, violence, etc.) that its cause may not be easily diagnosed at
any level above that of the individual.

Matt Tomaso, irreverent grad student.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.