June 12, 1996

Neurobiology of Violence

Author Affiliations

UCLA Neuropsychiatrie Institute Los Angeles, Calif


by Jan Volavka, 397 pp, with illus, $54, ISBN 0-88048-543-4, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1995.

JAMA. 1996;275(22):1772-1773. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530460076040

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Neurobiology of Violence is a thoughtful, well-written, and user-friendly discussion of the factors contributing to violent behavior. Physicians in clinical practice, especially in the major cities of the United States, have become increasingly concerned about the level of violence prevalent in urban centers. This is a book with some answers about the etiology of violence.

The author's wisdom is evident in his opening to chapter 1: "Everybody knows intuitively what violence is. Unfortunately, intuitions differ." He thoughtfully reviews the literature and how various authors have done their studies and continues with his perception of "the consensus opinion of scientists working in a given field." He then gives his own opinion, adding to our knowledge.

At the beginning of the book are definitions, which are important to worthwhile research. How violence has been reported, for example, as a part of population surveys, arrest reports, and so on is discussed, with the