Mental Disorders and Crime

Topics: Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Suicide Pages: 7 (2177 words) Published: June 13, 2012
The relationship between mental illness and crime has been questioned for quite relatively a long period of time, and during the last few decades various studies about this issue have been carried out by a number of scientists who have conducted a number of tests and studies which resulted in a range of different outcomes. People have always feared the violence of the mentally disordered, but is there really a relation between criminality and mental illness?

Among the disorders which are most commonly associated with crime, we can find: schizophrenia, major depressions, alexithymia, bipolar disorder and antisocial personality disorder (APD) or as it is better known, psychopathy.


As mentioned above schizophrenia is one of the mental disorders commonly associated with crime and it could easily be said to be the mental illness given most attention by the media. Schizophrenia is said to be a result of both biological predisposition and environmental causes. It most commonly takes the form of hallucinations, strange delusions and unorganized talk and thought. Its symptoms are said to start appearing during early teenage years and it is most commonly identified by observing the patient, and analyzing the patient’s history. This disorder mainly affects the reasoning of one’s thoughts and it usually leads to long term problematic issues mostly with emotions and behavior. The patient is also said to lose interest or pleasure in certain activities. Individuals may develop different characteristics, like for example inappropriate smiling, and silly facial expressions. In most of the cases, there may be a time reversal, where they stay up late and awake during the night and sleep through the day. Schizophrenics are also known to have a tendency for drug abuse, with an alarming rate of almost 50 percent which end up abusing substances. This in turn leads to social problems such as unemployment and homelessness.

Major Depression

Another mental disorder which could be said to be one of the most common is major depression. People suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are typical of suffering from bad moods, low self esteem, and lack of interest in pleasurable actions. Major depression affects one’s family, social and working life because of the factors mentioned above. Around 3.4 percent of people who suffer from MDD actually end up committing suicide in the United States alone, while up to 60 percent of suicide victims are afflicted by major depression. This disorder is diagnosed from reports given by friends, family and other people who have close relationships with the patient, while performing a mental status examination could also help diagnose this illness. Depression is most commonly seen between the ages of 20 and 30 with a subsequent climax during the 30 to 40 year old period. The causal factor of MDD is still not yet known to scientists and researchers, even though many of them believe that it is caused by chemical imbalances inside the brain, which could be transferred genetically from previous generations.


The term Alexithymia was used by psychotherapist Peter Sifneos in 1973 and it refers to a condition known to make the individual prone to other medical and psychiatric disorders. Symptoms of alexithymia may include difficulty in recognizing feelings and emotions and problems in separating them from one another, along with difficulty in describing them. People who are diagnosed with this condition also suffer from a lack of imagination which causes difficulty in dreaming and fantasizing. In fact their dreams are usually said to be very realistic and are based on everyday circumstances, like for example going shopping. Sometimes the behavior of alexithymics may seem to go against the symptoms mentioned because they might break into crying or experience outbursts of rage, but when questioned they would still be confused about what they are feeling. Just like...
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