Individuals with Schizophrenia are more at risk for violent behavior. Individuals who suffer from mental illness have been portrayed as having a higher risk of violent behavior. Mental illness is an ambiguous term used to cover anything that has to do with impaired cognitive function to personality disorders. By narrowing down the definition of mental illness and looking at a specific type of mental illness, it then become apparent through literature reviews, those who suffer from a specific mental illness do have a higher risk of violent behavior due to that illness.
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In this say, schizophrenia will be the specific mental illness looked at. Numerous studies have been conducted over the last decade on schizophrenia and violent behavior and these have been reviewed in this essay to provide the reader insights into this mental health problem and how sufferers may be prone to violent behaviors. Medical testing have also provided insight to how a schizophrenic brain is different to a non-schizophrenic brain, and this provides further insight but not an encompassing explanation for violent behavior.
Environmental as well as familial and substance abuse are elements that affect a person suffering with schizophrenia hat contribute towards further violent behavior. Schizophrenia is a mental state affecting the conventional functioning of the brain. It is defined by symptoms of delusions, disorganized speech, thought and behavior, and diminished emotional expressions (Queensland Health, 2011).
Whilst a variety of environmental factors are involved in being accountable for the condition, most research has been targeted on the biological variations between those with and without the condition (Wallace, Mullen, Burgess, Palmer, Reaches, Browne, 1998). Media coverage is one of the main vessels by which the public ensure data concerning mental disorders and psychiatric health, the foremost common illustration of schizophrenic disorder is in linking schizophrenic suffers with violent behavior (Magnolia, 2009).
In 1999 a study of USA citizens, it showed that 12. 8% believed that individuals suffering from schizophrenia were more likely to engage in violent behavior against others than individual who didn’t suffer from schizophrenia. 74% of respondents said that individuals suffering from schizophrenia were not able to make decisions regarding treatment for themselves or financial decisions (Epicycloids et al, 1999).
There are a variety of high profile murders committed by schizophrenic patients like the murder of British police officer DC Michael Swindles by Earl Butler, a 48 year old man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia in 2005, which received negative media attention, portraying Earl Butler as a danger to society and that he was an example of why mental health sufferers needed to be locked away for the general publics safety (Saws, 2009).
There have been numerous studies and articles written about the links between schizophrenia and violent behavior, suggesting that there may be increased levels f violence with those suffering from schizophrenia. The Cameleer Study of Crime and Schizophrenia (Wesley, 1998) was a longitudinal study that pursued 538 examples AT controllable In ten precinct AT commonweal Trot control group used against the schizophrenic populace was a diverse collection of individuals who suffered from mental illness but were non-schizophrenic.
Violent offenses and all criminality were measured in this study. During this study it was noted that females suffering from schizophrenia were three times more likely to have a criminal conviction across all types of crime against the non-schizophrenic female offers. A similar outcome was noted for males with the schizophrenic sufferers being four times more likely to have a criminal conviction. More recently, a study (Faze et al 2009) that pursued 13, 806 schizophrenic patients in Sweden between 1973 and 2004.
During this time, 17% of the male suffers had a violent offense conviction. Socio-demographic data of the schizophrenic sufferers and their parent’s were recorded and this information showed that suffers with parent’s who had convictions for violent offenses were 50% more likely to commit a similar offense as opposed to suffers with no family history of violent offense convictions. This finding proposes that genetic factors associated with violent offending may have a greater role in deciding conviction outcomes that schizophrenia alone.
Literature reviews shows that most studies were focused on specific violent behavior from sufferers with schizophrenia, another study focused on general crime rates like theft, property crime and drug offenses. There was evidence to show that these crimes rates were comparable for both schizophrenic sufferers and non-schizophrenic sufferers. An exception to this data was sexual crimes, which was shown to be lower in sufferers of schizophrenia than those non-schizophrenic sufferers.
However, this study did not provide a reasoning for why this rate seemed be lower other than there was little data available about schizophrenic sufferers being treated for sex offenses (Allis et al, 2007). Links between schizophrenia and violent behavior can be explained by the makeup of the brain in comparison too non-schizophrenic suffer. Neuron-imaging technology such as positron emitting tomography or PET measured the blood flow to active areas of the brain, and this measuring of blood flow can help distinguish differences in the schizophrenic brain construction.
In a controlled testing done by Andresen et al (2000) it was shown that there was reduced blood flow to the preferential cortex which is at the front of the brain and is responsible for regulating behavior as well as mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong, and predicting the probable outcomes of actions or events (Andresen et al, 2000). This does not explain the propensity for some violent behavior but does demonstrate that schizophrenic sufferers have diminished cognitive functions and lack forethought and an understanding of consequences of their actions.
With these outcomes it can be shown that sufferers of schizophrenia are more likely to have convictions for violent behavior then those who don’t suffer from this mental illness. Persons with schizophrenia have long been affiliated with violent criminality, but their general contribution to other kinds of crime is proportionately smaller in comparison to the general public (Swanson, 1994). The relationship between the schizophrenic sufferer and violent behavior shows that symptoms of delusions may play a role in being the catalyst for violence to occur particularly with younger male suffers (Nordstrom, Sullener, 2006).
Individuals most likely to become a victim of violence from a schizophrenic sufferer are likely to be unknown with the offender (Nordstrom, Sullener, 2 ) I Nils Is valence In a study, winner It was shown Tanat victims of violence by the schizophrenic suffers over 50% of the victims were strangers (Nordstrom, Sullener, 2003). If violent behavior is fundamental to schizophrenia then the immediate family of the suffers would be likely to receive this violent behavior than strangers, however there may be a trend to underreported this violence to the police and courts due to family loyalty.
Individuals suffering from schizophrenia are at higher risks of violent behavior. This has been evidenced by the above reviews of various studies and data subsets to show that in comparison to the general population, individuals with schizophrenia do have higher levels of violent behaviors. However, within these studies, there has been highlighted other contributions to violent behavior in schizophrenia other than the mental illness itself.
Wallace et al (1998) provided environmental and biological explanations for violent behaviors, Peccadillo 1999 argued that the media coverage and the publics reception of individuals with schizophrenia shape the way in which their violent behaviors are reported, Faze et al (2009) demonstrated that individuals with parent’s who had a criminal conviction were more likely to commit violent offenses, lending to the nature versus nurture debate with criminal families.
Medical imaging was also used to demonstrate that on a physical level, an individual who is suffering from schizophrenia has different brain chemistry and makeup from individuals who don’t.
By showing that the areas of the brain that are responsible for cognitive Hough and emotional processing are affected differently, lending to the argument that violent behavior in individuals suffering from schizophrenia is more than Just the mental illness, it is a collection of a predisposition to the mental illness through heredity lines, environmental factors such as criminal families and drug and alcohol abuse that contribute to schizophrenics being at a higher risk of violent behavior.