Mental health problems: Is it an increased risk factor for violent offending?
Adam J. Jetson
Assessment: Assessment 2 - Essay
Due date: September 26th, 2014
Course convener: Dr. Louise Porter
Tutor: Lara Christensen
Campus: Gold Coast
Class: Tuesday, 2pm – 3pm
Word count: 1965
In the past couple of decades, many of those who work in the field of forensic psychology have conducted numerous amounts of research to determine the link between violent offending and those who suffer from a mental illness. However, even though a large amount of research has been tested and it is indicated that there is a relationship between the two, it has been a major challenge to determine whether the results are accurate. Because these two share very similar risk factors to each other, the link remains in doubt. To start this essay, it will first define some key terms that will be used throughout, which include mental health problems, schizophrenia, and violent offending. These terms will be defined so there will be a central understanding to the topic being discussed. The main focus of this essay will try and determine the link between violent offending and people who suffer from a mental health issue. This will involve a very thorough analysis of the risk factors that arise from mental health problems and violent offending. First, this essay will begin by defining the term mental health problems, more specifically the types of illnesses that will be taken into consideration for the purpose of this essay. Second, it will explore theories and how they attempt to explain mental health and violent offending; and third, argue the links between mental health problems and violent offending. Increasingly, it is intended that these areas of discussion are to support the argument that people who suffer from a mental health problem are at an increased risk of violent offending.
According to the DSM-V neurodevelopmental disorder, also known, as a mental disorder is “a group of conditions with the onset in the developmental period. The disorders generally start to develop at an early stage, and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments to personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning.” (American Psychiatry Association, 2013). More specifically, schizophrenia is defined as “a serious mental illness that causes a disruption to the way a person will behave, think and feel. People who suffer with schizophrenia will experience a change in behaviour, which can result in the way they perceive reality.” (Australian Psychological Society, 2014). According to Queensland Health (2011), Bipolar, also known as manic-disorder is “a mental illness characterized by episodes of abnormal and persistent behaviours, and at times suffer with depressive episodes.”
The first theory that will be explored is Neuropsychology of offending. This theory is defined as “structural damage or abnormality of the brain that may be related to violent offending.” (Miller, 1999). He then goes on to state that, “Head injuries caused to the frontal and temporal lobes, may affect psychological changes that increase the risk of violent offending.” Miller (1999) reviewed two studies, one study being the EEG study. This study examined the abnormalities in over 1250 subjects that had previously committed a violent offence. Results found that 65% of these 1250 samples suffered from an abnormal personality defect, compared with a similar sized group of those in a normal population, which resulted in only 12%. The next study reviewed was the Positron Emission Tomography (PET), this study injects radioactive markers into the blood stream and detects whether blood flow or glucose uptake has increased in different parts of the brain. (Miller, 1999). When Miller (1999) reviewed this theory he examined an experiment conducted by Goyer (1991), which tested 17 patients who...
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