PJ Media

Is there a connection between violence and mental illness?

Forensic psychologist Steven Erickson posts on the a href=”http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/2007/05/the_nexus_between_mental_illne.html#more” nexus between violence and mental /a illness at The Crime Consequences blog:br /br /blockquoteA common question posed to mental health researchers is whether people with mental illnesses are more violent than those in the general population. For years, the clarion call from advocacy groups was that the answer to this question was a flat “no”. However, strongrecent research/strong [my emphasis] is beginning to challenge that rather dogmatic view, and in so doing, has enveloped into a controversy. In particular, a recent study from the landmark National Institute of Health CATIE study suggests that for some people with mental illness the answer is yes. Of course, when examining the complex phenomena of mental illness and violent behavior a lot of caveats are in order…../blockquotebr /br /The recent research that Dr. Erickson points to above isa href=”http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/63/5/490?maxtoshow=HITS=10hits=10RESULTFORMAT=fulltext=A+National+Study+of+Violent+Behavior+in+Persons+With+Schizophreniasearchid=1FIRSTINDEX=0resourcetype=HWCIT” partly found here /ain a 2006 study entitled: “A National Study of Violent Behavior in Persons With Schizophrenia.” The study results found the following: br /br /blockquoteThe 6-month prevalence of any violence was 19.1%, with 3.6% of participants reporting serious violent behavior. Distinct, but overlapping, sets of risk factors were associated with minor and serious violence. “Positive” psychotic symptoms, such as persecutory ideation, increased the risk of minor and serious violence, while “negative” psychotic symptoms, such as social withdrawal, lowered the risk of serious violence. Minor violence was associated with co-occurring substance abuse and interpersonal and social factors. Serious violence was associated with psychotic and depressive symptoms, childhood conduct problems, and victimization./blockquotebr /br /Every year across the United States, a href=”http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/10/10/60minutes/main525146.shtml”roughly 1,000 homicides are committed /aby people with severe mental illness. Can we really afford to stick our heads in the sand and deny thatem some /emmentally ill people might be violent? Instead of a controversy over whether or not the mentally ill are being stigmatized, wouldn’t it make more sense to continue serious research to find out what types of illness and symptoms could lead to violence and find better (and more humane) ways to treat them?