The Link between Crime and Mental Disorder

Essay by beepydaveUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, August 2004

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In an effort to understand, and therefore reduce or eliminate crime, studies are conducted that examine the many factors that influence or affect it. One of the influences [or possible influences] that affect crime [particularly violent crime]is mental disorder. Several studies have been carried out that investigate this link, which have uncovered much important information. These studies [as with most studies] however, are not without bias. Things such as definition of mental disorder or abnormality are often questionable, as are sample distributions. There are also individual factors, such as type of mental disorder and previous criminal records of subjects, which can influence the results. After taking these factors into account, the research results when examined, suggest, contrary to popular belief, that individuals with mental disorders are generally no more likely to commit crime than individuals without mental disorder.

It is a common assumption, that whenever a brutal, violent or senseless crime is committed, it is by someone who is mentally ill or sick.

Blaming violent and senseless crime on mental disorders may be comforting but it is not necessarily accurate. A stereotype has developed of the 'insane mass murderer' largely due to the media, however, research evidence suggests that this stereotype is far from accurate. Much research on the link between crime [specifically to this discussion, violent crime] and mental disorder has been conducted, however there are different factors that need to be taken into account when examining this link. Definition of mental disorder is a major one, along with possible uneven sample distributions. Also, there have been changes in mental health and criminal justice policies that have increasingly made hospitalisation restricted to those who are more socially disruptive or dangerous. With these considerations in mind, research evidence can be then be examined.

As previously stated, there are many...