New research from the the University of California, Berkeley on psychosis and violence provided some surprising findings. According to the researchers the delusions and hallucinations that occur during episodes of psychosis rarely lead to actual violence. The research findings were published online in Clinical Psychological Science. These findings are a challenge to the stereotype that psychosis leads to aggression and violence. In the study 305 violent incidents perpetrated by mental health patients were reviewed closely. According to the lead author of the study, University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare associate dean of research and clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Skeem “High-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. But our findings clearly show that psychosis rarely leads directly to violence.”
Out of 305 violent acts only 12% of these acts were preceded by an episode of psychosis. Violence is more likely to occur out of anger, substance abuse, and access to firearms than it is to occur because of psychosis. This is not how the media and Hollywood portray someone who is experiencing psychosis though. According to Dr. Skeem “We wanted to examine the small group of people with repeated violence and see how consistently these violent incidents were caused by hallucinations and delusions.” 100 high risk patients who had each been involved in at least 2 episodes of violence were also evaluated in order to try and determine what their mental state was during the acts of violence. According to the researchers individuals with mental illness are far more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator.