Crime and Mental Disorders

Crime and Mental Disorders


There are many issues that tend to bring controversy in the world especially when people have different issues sensitive matters. For instance, people have always had different perceptions between crime and mental disorders. This paper seeks to establish whether the two have any relationship by answering and expounding on three significantly important questions: are individuals who are mentally challenged violent? Are the mentally challenged individuals in our society as a risk of increased crime? Is the public at crime risk emanating from the mentally ill in our society? What the public should know is that mental disorders have never been a sufficient or a probable cause of violence, or crime in the society (Bellenir, 2012). This is because the major factors contributing to crime and violence in the society have always been economic and socio-demographic. For instance, a vice like substance abuse has always been a major determinant of violence and crime in the society in all contexts. This can be both in a concurrent mental illness or not. The below research discusses other significant factors that play a significant role in crime among the mentally ill.


The debate on whether the mentally ill are more prone to violence than other individuals has drawn contention in both the scientific field as well as in the social ethics’ field (Leyse-Wallace, 2013). The terminology “violence” refers to illegal physical acts committed against others. The terminology “crime” can also assume the same definition although it also stands in for emotional and psychological acts against others. These two terminologies have been identified as the most significant factors of discrimination and social stigma as they are fear-inducing to the public. The terminology “mental-illness” is usually used to expound on major mental disorders that affect the human species such as depression, post traumatic stress disorders and schizophrenia among others. These illnesses are usually non-substances related. This is because some substances such as cocaine and other illicit drugs may trigger some unstable mental capabilities which people confuse as illnesses (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2003). Therefore, when discussing substance, and concurrent substance related disorders especially in relation to crime in the society, they are discussed separately. Click here to see a custom concept of brain disorders paper.

Are the mentally challenged more prone to crime/violence?

Recent statistics seem to suggest that there are many mental illnesses in our society today. They also show different levels of crime to be on the rise and many are the times some people claim to have been in their right mind while committing them. Therefore, in clinical practice, there have been numerous investigations seeking to identify whether individuals with mental illness are drawn to crime and violence by their disorders. In the past, many people used to argue that mental illnesses could make a patient indulge in crime activities, but this perception has been under scrutiny since there is no known evidence supporting the same (Wedding et al, 2010).  In fact, people have been more willing to prove that this perception is untrue as most of the times mentally ill people tend to be docile apart from when they are directly or indirectly provoked. Scientists have been using actuarial assessment tools in violence risk assessment practices among mentally ill individuals in the society. The results gathered from these assessment practices have been accepted in the society, as it can even be used as evidence for or against an individual in a court of law depending on the results. Click here to see a custom concept of brain disorders paper.

However, these assessments have to be carried out by highly skilled professionals as misdiagnosis can be of disadvantage to a patient, or to the society (Hoff & Morgan, 2011). For instance, there are psychiatrists who claim to have had first hand violent experiences with the mentally ill.  This is especially among those who work in acute or emergency care settings. For instance, in Canada, a country whose violent population is significantly low as compared to other countries of the world, research shows that most psychiatrists usually get involved in managing and treating violent behavior.  On top of that, statistics also show that almost at least 50 percent of these practicing psychiatrists have been attacked, and maybe even assaulted by their patients at one time or another. Therefore, there are many psychiatric professionals in this country whom seek to offer psychological treatment trough different forms of therapy (Leyse-Wallaca, 2013). However, what people should understand is that these clinical experiences have nothing to do with personal behaviors of individuals who have different mental disorders. This is because; change in the practice of psychiatry, more so in social changes, where individuals who are treated in acute settings are the only ones at high risks of violence. This has been actualized following the set standards for civil commitment legislation.

Statistics continue to prove that a number of contextual factors as well as other social ones that can lead to violence in a clinical setting. Therefore, just because mentally ill persons may be a little violent does not mean that it is in their behavior to be violent in the society (Dutton, 2007). Maybe it is because of the medication that these doctors subject them to, even the smell of the clinic among other factors. Consequently, research also shows that different clinical settings attract different reactions from mentally ill patients. This is even in units of treatment with almost similar acuity or clinical mixes. These differences indicate that mental illnesses do not determine occurrence of violence since it does not show a sufficient cause. This is because even the studies that have been conducted in efforts of identifying antecedents of aggressiveness tend to suggest that structural and social factors play a significant role in the same. For instance, there may be patients may become violent because of the ward atmosphere, lack of activities, ward restrictions, poorly structured activity transitions overcrowding and lack of clinical leadership (Empie, 2003).

Other than psychiatrists in acute settings, the public has also witnessed some violence activities from the mentally ill at one time or the other in their lifetime. However, what precipitates a violent reaction from mentally ill person is what matters. For instance, most violent reactions from the mentally ill persons may be as a result of the environment surrounding them. For instance, these mentally ill persons may be in presence of real life dramas or even witness movies with crazed killers especially in disturbing times like at night and playing on some disturbing frequency (Wedding et al, 2010). However, this has no link to the nature of crime that is mostly experienced in the society. The public mostly fears that crime from mentally ill is senseless, unpredictable and usually random. That is why the public tends to think that such kind of violence is only committed by mentally ill individuals.  In fact, the public may rather hear that an individual was hacked to death during a robbery other than randomly by a psychotic individual (Bellenir, 2012). What worries the public most is the unpredictability, randomness and senselessness of a crime that may be committed by a psychotic individual. This is because they argue that at least at a robbery, some individuals are safe for they may not have anything to worry about.

There have been a few confronting situations involving mentally ill individuals in places like Matschinger, Germany and Angermeyer. Research in these regions showed that the public desire to maintain a social gap between them and the mentally ill increased every time there was a publicized attack by a mentally ill person, mostly never returning to initial moral values of support and understanding (Leyse-Wallace, 2013). Surprisingly, most of these incidents tend to correspond with increased public perception that the mentally ill are dangerous and unpredictable. Click here to see a custom concept of brain disorders paper.

However, this perception has become extensively sophisticated in developed nations. America is one of these countries and it has a lenient perception pertaining whether the mentally ill commit crime more regularly than the healthy population.  This is because the America public seems to judge the risk of violence concerning the mentally ill differently. This is mostly depending on different diagnostic groups and their relation with rankings corresponding with recent research findings that may be in existence (Dutton, 2007). For instance, there was a research that was carried out by Blumenthal et al (2001) in the matter involving 1, 444 individuals concerning mental illness and different treatment approaches. The above individuals gave different responses as to the kind of the mentally ill individuals they felt were at higher chances of committing crime.

For starters, these 87.3 percent of these respondents said that mentally ill individuals who are drug depended are the most dangerous (Blumenthal et al, 2001). 70.9 percent of these respondents said that they felt that mentally ill who are alcohol depended are the most dangerous and unpredictable patients in the society. 60.9 percent of these individuals felt that those suffering from schizophrenia are more prone to becoming violent. 33.3 percent of the interviewed personnel said those with major depression issues like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more prone to committing crime than any other persons. Finally, 16.8 percent of the interviewees felt that individuals who are mentally troubled can commit crime in the society. Researches done in relation to the above concept also seem to show that substance abusers were also rated among the individuals with the highest risk of being violent and committing crime in the society. Similarly, mentally ill individuals with schizophrenia and depression were rate to be at a high risk of also being violent and committing crime in the society.

The above research proves that the public perception between violence and mental illness is primarily associated to stigma and discrimination (Empie, 2003). This is because; the public is significantly likely to condone coerced treatment or any other form of legal action especially when the issue of violence is at play. On top of that, sometimes people use this perception as justification for ill treatment and even victimization practices against the mentally ill in the society. There have been witnessed cases of the mentally ill being victimized even by their families although this may go unnoticed by clinicians. For instance, a research carried out in the United States of America investigating violence cases against the mentally ill showed that 63 percent of the abused were living with their partners. The form of abuse manifested itself in different forms including chocking, gun or knife threats, punching and even hitting (Hoff & Morgan, 2011). 46 percent of those living with their family members also reported to have been victimized the year prior to this research. There were also other statistics showing that mentally challenged persons are significantly victimized in the society. This is because most of them are poor and live in poorly impoverished neighborhoods where the risk of victimization is usually high (Blumenthal et al, 2001). A recent study in the matter shows that 8.2 percent of mentally ill persons are usually victimized in these poorly impoverished neighborhoods in a period of just four months. When these mentally ill personas are continuously victimized in the society, they may also respond to their assaulters violently. Therefore, from the above research we can say that mentally ill persons are not any more violent than their healthy counterparts. It is only that sometimes they react violently to those who assault them ,and maybe to other structural and social factors found in acute clinical settings.

Are the mentally ill at increased risk of violence?

The most significant issue that scientists are interested in under this topic is whether the mentally ill commit crimes at a higher frequency than the non-mentally ill counterparts. Therefore, this question can be subjected to scientific as well as well as psychological investigations. Recent studies show that the mentally ill are not any violent or prone to crime than their non-mentally ill counterparts. In fact, before the 1980s scientists used to argue that mentally ill persons were docile and less likely to commit crime. This is because crime among the mentally ill was perceived as precipitated by the same factors that caused crime in every other individual in the society (Kleespies & APA, 2009). These factors include; age, poverty, substance abuse and gender among others. Therefore, excess in any of these factors were viewed as the determinants of rates of crime among the mentally ill in the society. However, recent studies have linked mental illnesses to some violent crime. For instance, scientists have proven that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can lead to involuntary crime. Click here to see a custom paper on Learners with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a disturbing medical condition which may appears after experiencing traumatic events (Rudolf, 2009). These events may have only occurred once or they may have repeated themselves. Good examples of traumatic events include; rape cases, death threat and assaults with injuries among many others (McNally, 2010). When an individual undergoes such traumatic events and does not seek help, the memories of these situations may cause severe trauma and a lot of stress, hence the title of the disorder. Therefore, medical practitioners all over the world call for individuals who may have undergone any traumatic events to seek professional help soonest possible. This is aimed at help these individuals to confront these situations, accept them and move on with life with a positive attitude. Individuals who do not seek help end up showing severe stress and other incomprehensible behavior. These symptoms may even lead self inflicted injuries out of powerlessness, horror or even unexplained fear, which may even lead to their deaths (Hauff & Vaglum, 2011). These deaths can either be suicidal or by accident. Exposure to different forms of violence is also a major cause of post traumatic stress disorder. This may be violence in teaching or working institutions, at war zones or even family violence. In fact, researches done on soldiers who have been on intense war zones shows that tend to inhibit sever posttraumatic stress disorder symptomS.

It is significantly evident from the above research that individuals who do not seek treatment from the post traumatic disorder cannot be able to live normal and productive lives. This is because they keep experiencing horrifying flashbacks from traumatizing situations (Hauff & Vaglum, 2011). A good example would be an ex soldier who has been in a war frontline, working in a textile industry. If this ex soldier develops post traumatic stress disorder, then he/she cannot be able to perform to maximum potential (Hauff & Vaglum, 2010). This is especially not in an environment where there are noises in the factory all the time. Noises from machines and other products in the factory can trigger memories of a gun fight at any moment. This may make an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD to confuse the situation with horrific experiences and who knows what dangers he might cause to his work mates? In short, being in the company of a person who have been at a warzone, and has not sought professional help on PTSD is exposing self to danger.

Another example is a woman who may have been sexually assaulted in her past and she did seek professional help. A victim of sexual assault may develop post traumatic stress disorder from the experience. If such a victim fails to seek professional help, she may develop ill feelings towards the male gender, and live to curse it for the rest of her life. There have even been cases where sexually assaulted women at young ages have sworn not to get married, or even get intimate with any man for the rest of their lives. Sometimes such women even resolve in very rational measures if they ever saw a woman and a man having a fight (Rudolf, 2009). Some cases where women who had been sexually assaulted at a young age killing men they suspected of sexually assaulting other women have been witnessed, even where there was no proof. The above are just examples on how untreated post traumatic stress disorder can negatively affects an individual. In fact, from the above scenarios, we can say that untreated individuals cannot lead normal and productive lives. For starters, individuals with untreated post traumatic stress disorders cannot be trusted with making fair judgments (Hauff & Vaglum, 2011). For example, I believe a woman who was sexually assaulted at a young age would never be in a position to favor men who accused of the same crime if she were a judge. I believe her judgment would be clouded by her past, and maybe even convict an innocent person.

Research also shows that persons who have untreated PTSD tend to be very aggressive (Rudolf, 2009). This is especially when they find themselves in situations that remind them of their traumatic events. When this happens, instead of confronting these situations and move on, they run away from them causing even more harm to their mental health. Individual suffering from PTSD are also easily distracted by their unpleasant memories. This can be at work and even at school meaning that they cannot perform at their maximum potential. Other than that, there is also the patients suffering from PTSD may end up abusing drugs (McNally, 2010). Most PTSD patients abuse drugs as a way of escaping their problems. This means that they may later develop irreversible health effects from these drugs out of not seeking professional help on PTSD. Therefore, it is significantly evident that mentally ill individuals may be at risk of committing crime more than the non-mentally ill, especially if they found themselves in situations that triggered provocative memories.

Are the public at risk?

From the above research on post traumatic stress disorder it is evident that there are some events that put the public at risk when in company with an individual suffering from an untreated mental disorder. However, this does not mean that every individual is at risk just by being in company of a mentally ill individual. This is because, research shows that unless mentally ill persons are provoked by situations or people that they find uncomfortable to be around, they are relatively calm (Bellenir, 2012). The best way of addressing the above question is figuring out whether violence to the public is directed towards the whole public or individuals within their close networks. This is because violence among mentally ill persons seems to be triggered by the social life that they lead. They could also be triggered by the quality and the nature of close interventions among the mentally ill. For instance, a research carried out in 2012 by the MacArthur group found out that 87 percent of individuals who have witnessed violence from the mentally ill are close family members and friends (Leyse-Wallace, 2013). Therefore, these violent crimes only occur at home and not in the public. It is only 10.7 percent of violent cases from mentally ill seems to have been directed to complete strangers.

For violence to occur among the mentally ill regardless whether it were in the home environment, there must have been factors that triggered the same for scientists say that it is less likely of an individual to attack you with no apparent reason. The above research also showed that such violence at home environment is mainly characterized by factors such as hostility, mutual threats and financial dependence, especially in patients with schizophrenia and tend to abuse substances frequently (Wedding et al, 2010).  A research done in the U.S and the data uploaded in the Epidemiologic Catchment Area, mental illnesses are mostly the presiding factor causing violence among the mentally ill persons. Therefore, the research argues that if scientists were able to reduce mental disorders, then violent behavior from mentally ill persons can be reduced significantly. This is whether this violence is towards family members or towards total strangers, reason being witnessed increase on crime levels from mentally challenged persons, and it is mainly characterized with crime. Click here to see a custom concept of brain disorders paper.

However, this reduction has also to be characterized by reduction of attributing factors leading to violence among the mentally ill. These affiliated factors include substance abuse, which if controlled can bring down the levels of crime among the mentally ill by almost 5 percent. Other disorders if addressed through therapy, crime in mentally ill person can be brought down by almost 10 percent (Hoff & Morgan, 2011).  In fact, scientists argue that if factors such as depression, substance abuse and disorders such as schizophrenia were addressed, the public is not at risk of any form of crime from mentally ill persons.


In conclusion, the above research has brought out factors about the relationship between crime and mental disorders that I feel the public should get clearly. For starters, homicides as well as the violent crimes we witness in the society are not committed by individuals suffering from mental disorders. Most of these violent acts and homicides are properly instigated something that might be challenging to mentally ill persons. Healthy people are the ones who take time to plan different types of crime that are reported every day in the news. Secondly, it is a fact that mentally ill persons endanger their lives more than they are to the general public (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2003). Therefore, people should stop looking at mentally ill persons as dangerous and unpredictable to the public, and look at them as people who are a threat to their own existence. Consequently, statistics prove that most people who commit suicides in the United Kingdom suffer from different mental disorders (Hoff & Morgan, 2011).

Facts also prove that the public is totally misinformed about the relationship between mental illnesses and crime or violence. This is because recent studies shows that many people in the world continue to associate mentally ill persons with intense violence while mentally healthy persons continue to commit the most heinous crimes in the society (Dutton, 2007).  The above info shows it is not true that mental illness lead to violence, later resulting into discrimination and stigma. It only determined by the perception the public has towards mental illnesses and how they affect the patients (Kleespies & APA, 2009). It is also significantly evident that news media and entertainment play a significant role to crimes committed by mentally ill individuals. This is because violent entertainment provokes mentally ill persons and it may lead to them turning violent unintentionally.




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