Temperament, insecure attachment, impulsivity, and sexuality in women in jail


Maurizio Pompili, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry—Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, 1035 Via di Grottarossa, 00189 Roma, Italy. Tel: +39-06-33775675; Fax: +39-06-33775342; E-mail: maurizio.pompili@uniroma1.it or mpompili@mclean.harvard.edu


Background: Women constitute only a small proportion of inmates, but several studies have shown that they have higher rates of psychiatric disturbance than incarcerated men and community samples. Mental health treatment is necessary to prevent severe illness and suicide in these women. Methods: The convenience sample consisted of 40 female detainees and 40 controls who were administered self-report questionnaires to assess temperament (TEMPS-A), insecure attachment (ECR), impulsivity (BIS-11), and sexual behavior (SESAMO). Results: The incarcerated women had higher levels of affective temperament (except for hyperthymia), avoidance, anxiety, impulsivity, and psychosexual issues than the female community sample. Conclusions: Many interrelated emotional and affective disturbances affect the physical and psychological well-being of women in jail, and it is possible that these problems may lead to suicide. Health professionals need to develop gender-specific therapeutic interventions for women in jail.