Are people with mental health problems at an increased risk of committing violence? Discuss
Word Count: 1,671
There have been a large number of cases throughout criminal history that relate to criminals being mentally unstable. In this essay I explore how mental health increases the risk of committing violence with a particular focus on serial killers. However, I also take a look at one of sports biggest names and how illness troubled his career. It will be argued that there is an increased risk of a mentally ill person committing violence, but this paper will show the troubled childhoods leading to the terrifying antics of these people. Finally mental health is analyzed in light of where it all begins and how having a healthy household can prevent a disaster occurring.
Mental health can be defined as something that affects ones everyday living and weakens their ability to relish life. This tends to be affected by a certain part of your brain that has been damaged by an external factor, for example, drug use or domestic violence. Mental illness is associated with the functioning of the brain that makes it more difficult to complete everyday tasks. The most common of such disorders include depression, anxiety, and more serious ones, bi-polar and schizophrenia. The last two mentioned are the clear outliers when talking about violence related to poor mental health.
The most notorious serial killers and criminals in history suffered from various mental disorders. The vast majority of these cases begin with poor treatment by their parents during childhood and the lack of discipline being out of line. Most of these criminals’ antics start before they’re even a teenager, with a minute amount beginning their law breaking as an adult. Examples of this are shown in infamous killers Peter Dupas, Richard Kuklinski and heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, all of which suffered from at least one type of mental illness.
Peter Dupas was a convicted rapist and murderer, his crimes spanned for over 30 years of his life. His sickening acts included cutting off one of his victims’ breasts and placing it in her mouth (Main, 2009). Dupas was born into a healthy household with loving parents who showed great affection towards him. His mother was an over-protective parent and his father was a perfectionist who made him feel inferior (Main, 2009, p17). It wasn’t until school started where he began to change. Dupas was bullied severely during school and had limited friends. The intelligence of Dupas was very low and by the age of 14 he stabbed his neighbor several times in an unprovoked attack. After many meetings with psychologists throughout his criminal years, none were ever able to conclude what was wrong with Peter Dupas. It isn’t clear what was going on in Dupas’ head as there was no conclusion with his psychiatric problems, but with a man as troubled as this, our criminal justice system should have been able to keep him in a psychiatric ward instead of letting him free so many times.
Richard ‘The Iceman’ Kuklinski was responsible for over 200 murders during his criminal years, although was only ever charged with the murders 6 people (Scott, 2009, p. 207). He was a hit man for the Gambino Mafia family and was brought into this career at a very young age. The Iceman had a tough upbringing, his mother was raped by a priest when she was ten and his father used to beat him, sometimes knocking him out cold. When Kuklinski was just five, his father bashed his older brother and best friend Florian to death. As Kuklinski grew older he began to develop serious personality disorders. “He viewed the world as a brutal, violent place filled with pain and turmoil” (Carlo, 2006, p. 18). By the age of 13 he took his first victims life by beating him to death with a pole. After this, he showed no remorse for any of the 200 plus victims he killed and exclaimed that he only cared about his family and nothing else...
References: Carlo, P 2006, ‘The Ice Man’ Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, New York, USA: St. Martin’s Press. P. 18.
Cunnen, C., & White, R. 2011, ‘Juvenile Justice’ Youth and Crime in Australia; Fourth Edition. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. P 75-74 & P 136 – 137.
Dietz, P 2001, ‘Dark Secrets’ Inside The Mind of a Mafia Hitman, Crime Uncovered Documentary.
Heller, P 1995, ‘Bad Intentions’ The Mike Tyson Story, Cambridge: First Da Capo Press.
Main, J 2009, ‘Rot in Hell’ Peter Dupas – the mutilating monster, Seaford VIC: Bas Publishing. P.17 & CH. 8.
Scott, C 2009, ‘The Rough Guide to True Crime’, New York ,USA: Penguin Books. P. 17-18.
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