Is Crime Caused by Mental Illness? Most Forensic Psychiatric Patients Deny This!

crime caused by mental illness

Forensic psychiatric patients typically do not blame their mental illness for the crimes that they have committed, pointing instead to other factors that they believe played a much greater role in the crime that they committed. Lund University in Sweden published a doctoral thesis by ethics coordinator in forensic psychiatry in Skåne and university Ph.D student Pontus Höglund that involves research and results from forensic psychiatric patient interviews which some found surprising. According to Pontus “Extremely few of the people who are mentally ill commit crimes. The connection between alcohol and violence is, on the other hand, clear, which means that anyone who wants to be safe should first and foremost beware of alcohol and not those who are mentally ill. In the worst case scenario, we focus on the wrong factors using the wrong methods — both within psychiatric diagnostics, liability assessment, and care and treatment.”

The thesis involving mental illness, crime, and forensic psychiatric patients shows that when interviewed few patients believed that their mental disorder was the biggest factor in play in the crime. According to Höglund “Many of the staff members believed that the patients would be both unwilling and unable to answer my questions. But it turned out that they were happy to share their experiences, and were most capable of discussing these relatively complex matters.” What Pontus felt was more disturbing was that “A majority of the 150 professionals that I interviewed had never thought about the relationship between mental illness and responsible actions, a correlation which forms the cornerstone of forensic psychiatry. Adding the almost identical rating of the diagnoses, you get what I call ‘unconscious consensus,’ a quite dangerous state, almost on the verge of madness.”

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