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Dangerousness criteria (1) are another source of discrimination against the
mentally ill, but not the greatest.
There is a statistically and clinically significant association
between violence and major mental illness, and some studies have demonstrated that
major mental illness is associated with at least a fourfold increase in
the chances of violence compared to the general population. (2)
However, a stu...
However, a study showed (3) that the population impact of patients
with severe mental illness on violent crime varies by gender and age, and
that the population-attributable risk fraction of patients was 5%,
suggesting that patients with severe mental illness commit one in twenty
On the other hand, rates of victimisation for people with severe
psychiatric disorders are shown to be high and far greater than those for
the general population, although men and women with severe mental ill ness tend
to be seen as authors and not as victims of violence. (4)
The media continue to damage a very important part of society, made up of the mentally ill, their families and
friends. News such as these are not unfrequent in the media:
'A mentally disturbed kills her father in Anywhere County'.
'A schizophrenic who stabbed his grandfather declared that he did it
just to scare him'.
'A schizophrenic stabbed eight children and wounded 19 at
We should not believe that all people with schizophrenia do such things. Of the thousands of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia in the world, only a small percentage has criminal behaviour. The rest live and let live. Most suffer from the disease in anonymity while their families and friends are socially discriminated by the community.
There should not be any discrimination in the treatment of people with illness in the media. Compare the previously reported headlines with these ones:
'An asthmatic kills her father in Anywhere County'
'A cirrhotic who stabbed his grandfather declared that he did it just
to scare him'
'A nephrosclerotic kills stabbed eight children and wounds 19
at a college'
Will this be a reality someday?
We declare that we have not conflict of interest.
1. Large MM, Ryan CJ, Nielssen OB and Hayes RA. The danger of
dangerousness: why we must remove the dangerousness criterion from our
mental healthJ Med Ethics 2008;34:877-881.
2. Walsh E, Gilvarry C, Samele C et al. Predicting violence in
schizophrenia: a prospective study. Schizophrenia Research 2004; 67: 247
3. Fazels S, Grann M. The population impact of severe mental illness
on violent crime. American Journal Psychiatry 2006; 163: 1397 1403.
4. Lovell AM, Cook J, Velpry L. Violence towards people with severe
mental disorders: a review of the literature and of related concepts Rev
Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2008 Jun;56(3):197-207.