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Neurobiology of Violence, Second Edition

Jan Volavka, M.D., Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-1-58562-081-4
  • Item #62081

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Every clinician today needs a basic understanding of what causes violent behavior. The second edition of Neurobiology of Violence synthesizes current research on the origins of violence and reveals its implications for managing aggressive patients and minimizing risk.

Author Jan Volavka, currently Chief of Clinical Research at the Nathan S. Kline Institute, spent time in a Nazi prison as a child and has devoted much of his career to studying violence in humans. In Neurobiology of Violence, Second Edition, he brought together research and clinical data from many diverse disciplines in a single-authored volume with a unified voice that is clearly written and interesting to read.

Neurobiology of Violence, Second Edition, will give you a firm grounding in a complex subject that will help you diagnose, manage, and predict violent behavior. In the first part of the book you'll examine the basic science of the origins of violence in humans, such as

  • Factors in animal aggression that have parallels in human aggression, including the relationship between serotonin and aggression
  • The genetic and environmental factors that interplay from conception to adulthood to result in violence.
  • In the latter part, you'll develop new insights and strategies for working with violent patients in discussions of the latest clinical science, including
  • Major mental disorders and violent behaviors, including behaviors expressed in the community and those in psychiatric hospitals
  • Alcohol and various drugs and the tendencies of each type of abuse to predispose people to violence
  • Current psychopharmacological approaches to managing violent behavior in patients.

With more than 1000 updated references, the second edition of Neurobiology of Violence is a seminal resource for clinicians. It is an important tool for psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, and all other clinicians who struggle to understand and treat violent patients.


  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Human Aggression and Criminal Violence: Definitions and Classifications
  • Chapter 2. Aggression Among Animals
  • Chapter 3. Neurotransmitters, Hormones, and Genes
  • Chapter 4. Neurological, Neuropsychological, and Brain Imaging Correlates of Violent Behavior
  • Chapter 5. Congenital and Demographic Factors
  • Chapter 6. Developmental Antecedents of Violent Behavior
  • Chapter 7. Personality Disorders and Impulse Control
  • Chapter 8. Violence and Psychoactive Substance Abuse
  • Chapter 9. Violent Behavior of Persons With Mental Disorders Outside of Hospitals
  • Chapter 10. Violent Behavior of Psychiatric Inpatients
  • Chapter 11. Biological Treatment of Violence
  • Chapter 12. Summary and Conclusions
  • Appendix Statistical Explanation of the Actuarial Method: Bayes Decision
  • References
  • Index

About the Authors

Jan Volavka, M.D., Ph.D., is Chief of the Clinical Research Division at The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center in New York, New York.

Volavka's book is not only a must for researchers and clinicians in the field; it can also be recommended for educated lay readers. In highly accessible language, it combines modern biologic theories with theories about external, environmental factors.—Danuta Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D., New England Journal of Medicine, 1/1/2003

Dr. Volavka combines a profound understanding of human neurobiology, an extensive knowledge of the animal and human research on aggressive behavior, and clinical experience to describe the complex roles played by biological factors in determining human violence. Skillfully, with wit and a critical scientific style, he clarifies and illuminates a voluminous and complicated field of study. The revised version is even better than the earlier one and is essential reading for all interested in the topic.—Sheilagh Hodgins, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Universite de Montreal, Montreal, Canada

The Neurobiology of Violence, Second Edition by Jan Volavka is a scholarly, comprehensive and often brilliant synthesis of knowledge and theory which provides readers, within a single volume, all that is currently known about violence and mental illness.—Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., Thad and Alice Eure Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In this update of his classic book, Dr. Volavka has successfully analyzed the full spectrum of new information on the neurobiology of human aggression and violence. The work is meticulous, vigorous, and academically sound. It is highly recommended as an excellent resource for researchers and clinicians.—Max Fink, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology Emeritus, SUNY at Stony Brook, New York

There are a whole range of worrying psychosocial phenomena, discussion of which has been based largely on emotional and political perspectives. Few of these phenomena have been subjected to appropriate research and study. This book fills that gap by providing an invaluable and comprehensive overview of the neurobiology of aggression and violence. It makes an important scientific contribution to our understanding of this subject and it should be required reading not only for psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and psychologists, but also for everyone who is concerned about the future of our civilization.—Prof.MUDr.Cyril Hoschl, Dr.Sc., MRCPsych., Vice Dean, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University; Director, Psychiatric Center Prague, Czech Republic

Volavka's first edition was a triumph of highly intelligent, imaginative and super-careful scholarship. The new edition retains these virtues and introduces new factors to be considered in research on violence. This work is, by far, the best, up-to-date overview of the biological bases of violence.—Sarnoff A. Mednick, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology; Director, Social Science Research Institute, University of Southern California

This excellent book presents a comprehensive view on the biological background of violence and provides the latest knowledge on the risk assessment and the treatment of aggressive behavior. It is highly recommended for everyone doing research or clinical forensic psychiatry.—Jari Tiihonen, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, Finland

This is a well structured, well written, and timely revision of Dr. Volavka's book. I know of no other book on the topic that discusses all relevant issues around this problem in such a comprehensive manner. It is clearly a book that should be on any mental health professional's or researcher's shelf.—W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Biological Psychiatry, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

This is the second edition of an outstanding book covering the neuroscientific underpinnings of violent behavior. Written and edited by an internationally recognized expert in the field, this book is an extremely valuable contribution to psychiatry.—Michael J. Schrift, D.O., Doody's Health Science Book Reviews, 1/1/2003

This volume provides an excellent, comprehensive review of the neurobiology of human violence and aggression. It is a well-written and concise work that has considerable relevance to physicians, providing an excellent reference for those interested in this topic.—Theodore D. Feldmann, M.D., Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1/1/2003

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