Psychology and Psychiatry

Destructive behavior

Destructive behavior is verbal or other manifestations of internal activity, aimed at the destruction of something. Destruction covers all areas of the individual's life: socialization, health, relationships with significant people. This behavior leads to an aggravation of the quality of an individual's existence, a decrease in criticality towards his own actions, cognitive distortions of perception and interpretation of what is happening, a decline in self-esteem, and emotional disorders.

This often leads to social maladjustment, up to the absolute isolation of the individual. Such behavior is sometimes the result of a defense mechanism, which consists in identification with the aggressor. The considered variation of behavior is characterized by a deviation from the behavioral and moral norms adopted by society.

The reasons

It is accepted to divide behavioral patterns into destructive or abnormal behavior and constructive (normal), generally accepted behavior. Anomalous behavioral response, from which destructive is formed, is characterized by non-standard, bordering on pathology, disapproval of society. It is often a deviation from the standpoint of social landmarks, medical norms, psychological attitudes.

Every behavioral model is laid in childhood. The four-five-year-old crumb assimilates the information defining its further relationship with the social environment. A full-fledged family, in which mutual understanding prevails, care, attention prevail, love exerts a beneficial effect on the maturation of the psyche of children, lays the foundations for behavioral patterns. Hence, individuals who have not received adequate education, warmth, attention, love, fall into the category of risk.

You should also be aware that children often borrow a destructive pattern of behavior of their own parents.

Scientific figures have established that the destructive behavior of an individual is successfully formed against the background of the presence of such factors:

- the presence of numerous social deviations (red tape, corruption, alcoholism, crime);

- liberalization of measures of social impact (lowering the level of censure, criticism);

- situational anomalies (speculation, fake marriages);

- easing measures to combat abnormal behavior (lack of fines, penalties).

Freud was convinced that the destructive behavior is the result of the negative attitude of the individual to his own person. He also argued that the destruction represents one of the basic drives. Proponents of psychoanalytic theory argued that abnormal actions are inherent in all degrees to all human subjects, only the objects of such actions differ (other personalized or inanimate objects, or he himself). Adler also held a similar view, believing that a fundamental cause of destructive behavior was a feeling of alienation and insolvency.

Fromm, on the other hand, argued that the destructive behavior provokes a person’s unrealized potential, as well as the impossibility of using fruitful energy for the intended purpose. The social analysis of the considered behavioral response variation was conducted by Durkheim, and the work of Merton, Worsley and other representatives of sociological science is devoted to the study of the causes, factors and variations of deviant actions. For example, Merton wrote that destructive behavior is caused by anomie — a special moral and psychological state characterized by the disintegration of the system of moral and ethical values ​​and spiritual guidelines. Worsley in his turn studied the relativity of the relationship of sociocultural norms and "absolute" standards.

Destructive behavior of adolescents

The problem of self-destruction of adolescents is quite relevant, since it gives rise to adolescent drug addiction, suicidal attempts, and alcoholism. The number of childhood suicides is increasing over the years. Cases of youthful drug addiction, alcoholism have long ceased to amaze anyone. At the same time, the described problems are observed not only in families in distress. Statistical observations say that approximately 37% of children who are registered with a narcological medical institution come from quite prosperous families.

The behavioral model is laid from childhood and it is based primarily on the parent example. By the age of five, the crumb already has a certain amount of knowledge that the child will follow in later life.

Destructive activity is characterized by two vectors of direction: self-destruction, that is, orientation towards oneself, expressed in addiction to psychoactive, alcohol-containing substances, narcotic drugs, suicidal acts, and external manifestations, including vandalism, terrorist attacks, cruelty to living beings.

The modern progressive development of society, in addition to positive trends, carries negative factors that do not affect the weak minds of young people in the best way. Progress, unfortunately, brought with it the degradation of culture, the rapid pace of being, permissiveness, easy accessibility (information, prohibited substances), an increase in the number of dysfunctional families, an increase in violence.

Also, the negative transformations of modern society gave rise to serious transformations in the maturing generation. So, for example, we can state the deformation of the moral and value orientation. Adolescents are more acutely experiencing turning points, which is reflected in their destructive actions and destructive behavior.

The puberty period is a stage of self-standardization, the introduction of one’s own “I” in certain roles, which gives rise to a growing need for a sense of identity, with the result that a minor often solves this problem through destructive actions.

Socio-destructive behavior among young people is most often caused by the desire of adolescents to assert themselves or to express themselves through "negative" behavioral patterns. Adolescents are characterized by increased emotional sensitivity, which leaves an imprint on their actions. The picture of the world of yesterday’s children has not yet been completely formed, but the ever-progressing process of vital activity gives rise to an additional psychological burden, which not every youngster can withstand.

The first signs of a teenager to destructive acts are considered unsociable, alienation. Then gradually increased irritability develops into frank aggression towards the social environment, which can be observed both in the school environment and in family and everyday relationships.

Often, adolescents strive to assert themselves, defending their own opinions in various ways. At the same time, the inability to fully demonstrate one’s own self, the lack or absence of support from a close environment, meaningful adults, is the reason for a teenager’s desire to realize himself in a “street” environment and more often unfavorable.

Analyzing the causes of destructive behavior, Vygotsky found that the basis of most deviations is the psychological confrontation between the minor and the environment, or between certain aspects of the personality of the adolescent. Ipatov in his turn made the assumption that the destruction of a teenager is a manifestation of the curvature of his socialization, which is revealed in acts contrary to social norms.

Aggression, cruelty, alcoholism, tobacco smoking, suicidal acts, craving for the modification of one’s own body (tattooing, scarification, piercing), bad language are all examples of destructive behavior typical of both minors and adults.

Types of destructive behavior

Destructive behavioral model is characterized by a variety of manifestations, which are aimed either at the personality itself, or at the physical or intangible objects of the environment.

Professor Korolenko refers to the goals of anomalous behavior aspiring to the phenomena of the world around him:

- extermination of living beings (torture, killing, bullying, cannibalism);

- deliberate violation of social relations (revolutionary actions, terrorist acts, coups);

- causing damage to inanimate objects or objects of nature.

Below is the main classification of variations in anomalous behavior. Destructive behavior can be subdivided into delinquent, that is, an individual's wrongful acts, for which he has to bear criminal or administrative responsibility, and deviant, representing a behavior pattern that is incompatible with moral standards and ethical standards, which are strengthened in society (unlike the generally accepted standard behavior).

The destructive behavior model is divided into the following types:

- antisocial (against society);

- addictive (a consequence of dependence);

- suicidal (self-destruction);

- fanatical (the result of fanatical attraction to something);

- autistic;

- narcissistic;

- conformist.

In addition, depending on the type of active acts, the following types of abnormal behavior are distinguished, namely: self-destruction, self-change (body modification: scarification, tattoos, piercing, mental state transformations: alcohol abuse, drug use), self-harm (ignoring vital and social needs, striving to risk).

The considered kind of behavioral response can be found in its various forms in the context of adaptation to society:

- radical adaptation (the desire to change, not arranging the individual world);

- deviant adaptation (grounded destructive actions, going beyond the limits of the norm);

- conformist adaptation (adaptation to generally accepted standards with which the subject does not agree);

- hyperactivity (setting unreachable goals);

- socio-psychological inappropriateness (a clear denial of the need to adapt to society, an effort to avoid it).


Preventive measures aimed at correcting a destructive pattern of behavior are much more effective than its treatment, since therapeutic measures require registration with a psychiatric institution. Ignoring the problem in its turn often leads to injury to children, suicidal acts, adults can cause harm to others.

Under the prevention of destructive behavior refers to a complex process aimed at the formation of the qualities of the individual, contributing to him to become a true subject of social relations. One of the basic factors of personal maturation is the preparation of minors for socialization.

And the main institution for the socialization of children is the family and the school environment. Therefore, the work on the prevention of destructive behavioral patterns should begin with the school environment and family. Since it is there that the ideals and bases are laid, from which the further outlook, moral and ethical guidelines and the general orientation of behavior are formed.

Preventive measures at the school level must include the following areas:

- observation of difficult adolescents;

- regular monitoring of attendance of lessons by difficultly educated students;

- systematically monitor the performance of such children;

- to involve a difficult child in the work activity of classmates, creative and sporting events, to give public instructions;

- try to neutralize the harmful effects of parents, strive to normalize the family situation;

- regularly conduct remedial developmental trainings and games.

The main preventive actions should be carried out in the following areas:

- Detection of children who are at risk of school maladaptation (identifying students who often skip classes, spend a lot of time in a street environment, are lagging behind in their performance, and are in conflict with their peers or teachers);

- analysis of the social situation of the development of a student with manifestations of maladaptive behavior, uniting schoolchildren into groups in accordance with the probable risk, as well as the stages of the maladaptation process;

- teaching students the skills of social competence (skills of self-regulation, conflict management, self-organization, communication, the ability to cope with the bitterness of loss);

- the creation and organization of pre-professional training of minors, which is to support the personality of the adolescent and his family in the formation of adequate conditions for social interaction, preparing the child for existence in society, professional self-determination, mastering the ways and skills of labor activity.