Mafia is a byword for organised crime and ruthless murder and yet new research has found that convicted mobsters display fewer psychopathic traits than regular criminals.
They also had fewer drug problems and are concerned about their families, according to a study published in the journal Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health.
A common view is that the inflated self-respect and the lack of guilt often observed in mafia members may suggest psychopathic traits.
However, a team led by Dr Adriano Schimmenti interviewed mafia men imprisoned in Palermo, Italy. Thirty men convicted of mafia-related crimes from a variety of organizations and families were then compared with 39 non-mafia criminals.
Contrary to expectations mafia members displayed less evidence of psychopathic disorders and accounted for fewer incidences of substance abuse compared to the other inmates.
During the interviews, mafia men often expressed concerns for their children and their families and they had never ceased to write and call them. Such expressions of attachment were less apparent among the other criminals.
“Our findings bring new hope for re-socialisation of convicted mafia members, because they showed significant antisocial traits but they maintained a capacity for emotional connection and greater likelihood of engaging with training and re-socialisation programmes than other imprisoned offenders in Italy,” said Dr Schimmenti.
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