Are certain mental illnesses more prone to criminal behavior, And what can be learned about how mental illness influences whether or not someone is likely to commit crimes?
Certain Mental Illness More Prone to Criminal Behavior
Since centuries ago dating to the time of the great Greek philosopher Socrates, the relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior has been a subject of debate. Socrates had stated that the low crime rate in Athens pointed towards low rate of mental disorder in the society. Whether mental illness plays a significant role in crime and other forms of behavior has caught the attention of various groups in the society. Great researchers, the likes of Kohlberg, Sigmund and Edens among others played a significant role to show the relationship that existed between mental illness and crime. This paper seeks to analyze whether certain mental illnesses are more prone to criminal behavior and what is learned from the analysis.
Different theories explain the root of violence among people in the society they range psychodynamic perspective, behavioral theory, cognitive theory and personality theory. These theories explain how different situations and factors affect people behavior and, as a result, react in certain ways. Our focus, however, is dawn to mental illnesses and how they may be associated with criminal behavior. Over the last 35 years, jails have recorded an increase in the number of inmates who are taken in with mental illness (Volavka et.al 2010). Though there is no exact figure on the increase, most literature reviews and research findings tend to show this increasing trend.
A survey recently carried out on 6,000 respondents across 14 countries showed that around ten per cent population of adults is prevalent with certain mental illness the most common being depression or schizophrenia. Mental disorder is a momentous risk factor for violence no matter how many factors are taken into account in any environment (Fazel et.al 2009). Depression, a disorder that is characterized with aggression from the research led to the conclusion that minor depression leads to increase in minor crimes, major bipolar depression isn’t related to high violent behavior as many may expect. Some mental illnesses like schizophrenia from research are more associated with violent behavior than others are (Vaughn & Howard 2005).
People suffering from paranoid delusions think that those in the environment are out to hurt them. Consequently, they tend to be more violent compared to those lacking these symptoms. Studies in the juvenile led to the view that a considerable number of juvenile murderers suffer from psychosis or schizophrenia. The MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study carried out in the United States is in accord with the view that both schizophrenia and paranoid lead to criminal behavior. Psychopaths another group of mentally sick persons should not be confused with psychotics. Psychopaths are people defined as egotistic, deceitful, callous, potent, are often concluded to justify their actions. Psychopaths are 1% of the entire global population, but they represent 25% of the prison population in the US (Theodorakis 2013)
The above researches tend to give the opinion that some mental illnesses result to crime. Nevertheless, some people hold the opinion that these may not always be the case. Often many people with mental illnesses have no violent behavior. There are some of those times like during forced hospitalization when they may tend to project violent behavior leading to committing crimes (Arsenaut et.al 2000). A considerable number of mentally ill persons from the survey may be concluded not to act violently in the society. However, as societies rise and people are concerned with themselves as individuals’ mental illnesses will cause more violence acts to the society
Whether an individual with mental illness will commit a crime depends on the environment that they leave in. An environment with conditions that assist the mental ill to recover helps in preventing violence among this group of people. The mere step of reducing the threat that the environment is harsh against the mentally ill would help them feel more secure in the society. These would reduce their chances of committing the crime. Secondary forces contributing to mental illness like challenges faced in society including lack of jobs result to mental illness related crimes were reducing such challenges is instrumental to reduce this form of crimes.
There are numerous untreated mental illnesses hence the increase in mental illness related crime. Reducing mental illness cases through treatment through therapy and drugs would help this type of crime by preventing such adverse scenarios like psychosis (Edens, Campbell & Weir 2007). Another measure like reporting any case that is likely to result to violence is important to control a probable crime since measures will be taken either to involuntarily hospitalize a person or voluntarily hospitalizing the person. To prevent a crime related to violence, the society has to play a role to ensure that those suffering from any mental illness are taken care of.
Some mental illnesses are associated with crime and unless the society recognizes these in the future the rate of mental illness related crimes will be a great challenge. Mental illnesses require good psychiatric care and inclusive society. It’s through appreciating and helping people with this challenge overcome their situations that such challenges like violence in the society are reduced. Working towards harmonizing the society and offering opportunities to the people will assist in reducing the growth of mental illnesses in society.
Arsenault, L, Caspi, P.Terrie, Moffit, A.Taylor and P. Silva. Mental disorders and violence: Archives of General Psychiatry:Wilan, 2000. Print
Edens, J. F., J.S. Campbell, and J.M. Weir. Youth psychopathy and criminal recidivism: Law and Human Behavior: Researchgate, 2007. Print
Fazel S, et al. Schizophrenia, Substance Abuse, and Violent Crime Journal of the American Medical Association web May 20, 2009: Vol. 301, No. 19, pp. 2016–23
Theodorakis Nikos: Psychopathy and its relationship to criminal behaviour, web Nov 2013. Volume 1
Vaughn, M. G. and M.O. Howard. The construct of psychopathy: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice: Sage, 2005.Print
Volavka J, et al. Violent Behavior in Mental Illness: The Role of Substance Abuse Journal of the American Medical Association .web Aug. 4, 2010: Vol. 304, No. 5, pp. 563–