Effects of psychostimulants on aggression

Richard P. Allen, I. Daniel Safer, Lino Covi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A review of the literature on the relation between psychostimulant drugs and aggression leads to the following conclusions. 1) In laboratory animals, small and moderate acute doses of the major stimulants (as dextroamphetamine) generally either reduce or have no effect on aggression, whereas high doses and chronic moderate to high doses of these drugs increase aggression in most species. 2) In man, aggression is not produced by the major Federal Drug Administration licensed psychostimulants, except in doses which produce a paranoid psychosis. Such doses are customarily, although not uniformly, high. The drugintoxicated person's aggression then is characteristically a defensive response to frightening delusions. 3) Children with hyperactivity and aggressive behavior usually respond to stimulant medication with reduced fighting, defiance, and impulsiveness. The effect of the drug on aggression may be separate from its effect on hyperactivity. 4) Hyperactive, aggressive adolescents respond to stimulants with the same benefits as do hyperactive children. The available data on the human response to stimulants suggest a need to better evaluate low dose amphetamine effects on aggression in adolescents and adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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