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May 26, 2004
Crime and Schizophrenia
Read more... Schizophrenia, Poverty & Crime
Crime and Schizophrenia - Recent Stories
There have been two news stories this past week related to the incidence of crime by people who have schizophrenia.
A new study out of Australia sounds like one of the most comprehensive I've seen - covers a 25 year period during which the researchers monitored 2800 people who had schizophrenia and compared the results to a similar number who didn't have schizophrenia. The conclusion of the study was that:
"People with schizophrenia are three to five times more likely to commit crimes than those without the mental illness, the largest study yet of the link has found.
The Australian study also found that 8.2 per cent of the schizophrenic group had been convicted of a violent offence - a rate 4.5 times the 1.8 per cent of the other group.
Dr Simpson said both studies showed that violence by people with severe mental illnesses was an issue. "As a contribution to total societal risk, people with schizophrenia, although slightly higher risk, do not present a major or overwhelming risk. Less than 0.2 per cent of the people with schizophrenia committed homicide over a 13-year period."
The researchers urged action to provide better services to people with schizophrenia to reduce the incidence of violence: "He urged addressing these problems for schizophrenics, offering therapy for personality difficulties such as insensitivity to others, helping them into jobs or at least providing structured activities and support. "If you do these things you could probably reduce crime by 5 to 10 per cent."
For the Full News Story on this Study see: Schizophrenia Boosts Crime Likelihood, The New Zealand Herald, May 17th.
A second story on this subject comes out of the American Psychiatric Association - Psychiatrists Disagree About Crime-Schizophrenia Link
This story stated that "People with schizophrenia appear to have a higher rate of criminal and violent behavior than people in the general population.
That finding does not appear to be explained solely by the presence of active symptoms, the concurrence of substance abuse, or the effects of deinstitutionalization, according to a report in the April American Journal of Psychiatry.
Rather, the pattern of offending among patients with schizophrenia reflects a range of factors that appear to be operative before, during, and after periods of illness, said Paul E. Mullen, M.B.B.S., D.Sc., of the Victoria Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Victoria, Australia, and colleagues.
The controversial finding, however, is disputed by at least one expert who reviewed the report for Psychiatric News.
Darrel Regier, M.D., M.P.H., director of the APA Office of Research, commented that the study?s methods for controlling all potentially confounding factors that might influence criminal offending among people with schizophrenia are insufficient to support the conclusions. "
This news item also emphasized that better treatment for people with schizophrenia could minimize this problem. "The study suggests that many of the factors that produce offending in the general population are important in producing offending in schizophrenia," he said. "These include disturbed backgrounds, poor social conditions, unemployment, and substance abuse, among others. But those with schizophrenia may be more vulnerable to these influences. It argues for a much more holistic approach to the treatment of schizophrenia, taking far greater note of the psychological and social problems of these patients if we are to do anything to reduce offending in our patients."
Posted by szadmin at May 26, 2004 06:34 PM
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