Acting Out: Maladaptive Behavior in Confinement

Pages: 446
Item #: 431683A
ISBN: 978-1-55798-880-5
List Price: $19.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $19.95
Copyright: 2002
Format: Softcover
Availability: In Stock
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Acting Out examines the prison careers of the most problematic group of inmates-those who appear to sabotage their own rehabilitation by repeated displays of violence, disruptiveness, or otherwise self-defeating behavior. A particular challenge with these prisoners is determining the extent to which their problem behavior is a result of mental illness, as opposed to purely "characterological" defects. Author Hans Toch calls this the "bad versus mad" distinction. Clearly, these two alternatives demand different kinds of responses by prison staff, yet they are often hard to disentangle.

As in his previous books focusing on the criminal justice system, Hans Toch brings his subject alive by unearthing rich source material. Here, he uses disciplinary records and mental health exams to reconstruct the careers of chronic offenders. His ability to find common threads in their behavior results in a fascinating analysis of the events that precipitate the prisoners' "acting out." Furthermore, his research findings inform a model intervention that holds real promise for disrupting the cycle of self-defeating and maladaptive behaviors. "Acting Out" is a newly revised edition of Toch's earlier work "Coping" and is essential reading for all who are interested in the rehabilitation of chronic recidivists.

Table of Contents



  1. Introduction: Studying Maladaptive Behavior in Confinement

I. Aggregate Patterns

  1. Data Collection and Analysis
  2. Patters of Prison Misbehavior
  3. Patterns of Pathology
  4. Disturbed–Disruptive Patterns

II. Individual Patterns

  1. A Taxonomy of Maladaptation
  2. Gratifying Impulses
  3. Enhancing Esteem
  4. Pursuing Autonomy
  5. Seeking Refuge
  6. Maintaining Sanity
  7. Distribution of Patterns
  8. Success Stories

III. What Have We Learned and What Must We Do?

  1. Some Implications of Our Study
  2. The Prison Careers of Mentally Ill Women
  3. Building Coping Competence


About the Authors

Author Bios

Hans Toch is distinguished professor at the University at Albany of the State University of New York, where he is affiliated with the School of Criminal Justice. He obtained his PhD in social psychology at Princeton University, has taught at Michigan State University and at Harvard University and, in 1996, served as Walker–Ames Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Toch is a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Society of Criminology. In 1996, he acted as president of the American Association of Correctional Psychology. He is a recipient of the Hadley Cantril Memorial Award and, in 2001, of the August Vollmer Award of the American Society of Criminology for outstanding contributions to applied criminology.

Dr. Toch's research interests range from mental health problems and the psychology of violence to issues of organizational reform and planned change. He has conducted research on prison systems in Michigan, California, New York State, and Scotland and in several police departments across the United States.

Dr. Toch's books include Police as Problem Solvers (with J. Douglas Grant, 1991), Violent Men (APA, 1992), Living in Prison (APA, 1992), Mosaic of Despair (APA, 1992), The Disturbed Violent Offender (with Kenneth Adams, APA, 1994), Police Violence (with William Geller, 1996), Corrections: A Humanistic Approach (1997), and Crime and Punishment (with Robert Johnson, 2000).

Kenneth Adams is an associate professor in the school of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University–Purdue University–Indianapolis. He received his PhD in criminal justice from the State University of New York at Albany. He is coauthor, with Hans Toch, of The Disturbed Violent Offender (1994) and coeditor of Incarcerating Criminals (1998).

Within the context of corrections, he has concentrated his research on special populations and on the prison disciplinary process. More generally, his research has involved program evaluations in a variety of areas, including prison education, juvenile curfews, gun control, and citizen complaints against police.

Reviews & Awards

Essential reading for anyone specializing (or working) in corrections. Graduate students through professionals.
Choice Magazine