Recklessness (psychology)

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Recklessness (also called unchariness) is disregard for or indifference to the dangers of a situation or for the consequences of one's actions, as in deciding to act without stopping to think beforehand. Aristotle considered such rashness as one end (excessive) of a continuum, with courage as the mean, cowardice as the deficit vice.[1] Recklessness has been linked to antisocial personality disorder.[2]


"Reck" is a regard or reckoning, particularly of a situation. A reckless individual would engage in an activity without concern for its after-effects. It can in certain cases be seen as heroic—for example, the soldier fearlessly charging into battle, with no care for his own safety, has a revered status and military rank among some. However, recklessness is more commonly regarded as a vice—this same soldier may be a liability to his own side, or get himself killed for no benefit – and may be the product of a death wish.[3]


The driving-force behind recklessness may be a need to test fate - an attempt to bolster a sense of omnipotence or of special privileges.[4]

Or it may be due to a loss of the feeling of anxiety,[5] to a denial of it,[6] or to an attempt to overcompensate for it.[7]

Similarly dare-devils may overcompensate for an inhibited aggressiveness, while narcissists may enjoy a feeling that nothing can happen to them,[8] similar to what Aristotle termed the maniac.[9]


Recklessness is often contrasted from bravery.[by whom?] Although the two could sometimes be connected, the latter is usually applied to cases where a person displays a more reasonable reckoning of the inherent danger, rather than none at all.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 103
  2. ^ D, Coon/J. O. Mitterer, Introduction to Psychology (2008) p. 488
  3. ^ Eric Berne, A Laynan's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (1976) p. 81
  4. ^ J. Halliday/P. Fuller eds., The Psychology of Gambling (1974) p. 207
  5. ^ J. Cleese/R. Skynner, Families and how to survive them (1994) p. 35-6
  6. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 480
  7. ^ Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society (1973) p. 249
  8. ^ Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 518 and p. 510
  9. ^ Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 129