Specific mental disorders and criminality: a 26-year prospective study of the 1966 Northern Finland Birth Cohort

Department of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Kuopio, Niuvanniemi Hospital, Finland.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 07/1997; 154(6):840-5. DOI: 10.1176/ajp.154.6.840
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The purpose of the study was to examine the quantitative risk of criminal behavior associated with specific mental disorders.
An unselected 1966 birth cohort (N = 12,058) in Northern Finland was prospectively studied until the end of 1992. The investigation started during the mothers' pregnancy, and the data on the subjects' family characteristics, mental and physical development, living habits, psychiatric morbidity, and criminal records were gathered at various times.
The prevalence of offenses was the highest among males with alcohol-induced psychoses and male schizophrenic subjects with coexisting alcohol abuse, and more than half of the schizophrenic offenders also had problems with alcohol. Eleven (7%) of the 165 subjects who committed violent crimes were diagnosed as psychotic. Male schizophrenic subjects had a moderately high risk for violent offenses, but the risk for other types of crimes was not elevated significantly. Odds ratios for criminal behavior were adjusted according to the socioeconomic status of the childhood family and were the same as or slightly lower than the crude odds ratios for all disorders except schizophrenia and mood disorders with psychotic features.
The results indicate that the risk of criminal behavior was significantly higher among subjects with psychotic disorders, even though the socioeconomic status of the childhood family was controlled. The higher risk for violent behavior was associated especially with alcohol-induced psychoses and with schizophrenia with coexisting substances abuse. The results suggest that schizophrenia without substance abuse may also be associated with a higher risk of offenses, but this finding is tentative and requires further investigation.

Download full-text


Available from: Juha Moring, Aug 25, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    • "The inclusion of demographic risk factors in the prediction calculus would improve its accuracy, just as it would for those in the general population without mental illness. A series of population studies from Nordic countries [17] [18] and Australia [19] also confirmed that there is a modest but significant link between mental disorders and violence in the community. The landmark Dunedin birth cohort study reported similar findings using more sensitive measures of exposure and outcome [20]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose This article describes epidemiological evidence concerning risk of gun violence and suicide linked to psychiatric disorders, in contrast to media-fueled public perceptions of the dangerousness of mentally ill individuals, and evaluates effectiveness of policies and laws designed to prevent firearms injury and mortality associated with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Methods Research concerning public attitudes towards persons with mental illness is reviewed and juxtaposed with evidence from benchmark epidemiological and clinical studies of violence and mental illness and of the accuracy of psychiatrists’ risk assessments. Selected policies and laws designed to reduce gun violence in relation to mental illness are critically evaluated; evidence-based policy recommendations are presented. Results Media accounts of mass shootings by disturbed individuals galvanize public attention and reinforce popular belief that mental illness often results in violence. Epidemiological studies show that the large majority of people with serious mental illnesses are never violent. However, mental illness is strongly associated with increased risk of suicide, which accounts for over half of US firearms-related fatalities. Conclusion Policymaking at the interface of gun violence prevention and mental illness should be based on epidemiological data concerning risk, to improve the effectiveness, feasibility, and fairness of policy initiatives.
    Annals of Epidemiology 04/2014; 25(5). DOI:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004 · 2.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "times among the women with schizophrenia as compared to those with no admissions to a psychiatric ward (Brennan et al. 2000). Similar elevations in risk have been documented among persons with schizophrenia identified in other birth and populations cohorts (Wallace et al. 2004; Arseneault et al. 2000; Hodgins 1992; Tiihonen et al. 1997). While fewer women than men, with and without schizophrenia, are convicted of crimes, schizophrenia confers a greater risk for offending among women than among men. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: People with schizophrenia are at increased risk, as compared to the general population, to acquire convictions for violent crimes and homicide. They also show elevated levels of aggressive behaviour. While psychotic symptoms explain aggressive behaviour that is common during acute episodes, they do not explain such behaviour at other stages of illness or prior to illness onset. Three distinct phenotypes have been identified: individuals with a childhood onset of conduct disorder who display antisocial and aggressive behaviour both before and after schizophrenia onset; individuals with no history of conduct problems who begin engaging in aggressive behaviour as illness onsets; and individuals who after many years of illness engage in a severe physical assault. Little is known about the aetiology aetiology of the three types of offenders and about the neural mechanisms that initiate and maintain these behaviours. We hypothesize that schizophrenia preceded by conduct disorder is associated with a combination of genes conferring vulnerability for both disorders and altering the effects of environmental factors on the brain, and thereby, with a distinct pattern of neural development. Some evidence is available to support this hypothesis. By contrast, offending among adults with schizophrenia schizophrenia who have no history of such behaviour prior to illness may result from the changes in the brain that occur as illness onsets, and that are further altered by comorbid conditions such as substance misuse, or by the progressive changes in the brain through adulthood that may result from the illness and from the use of antipsychotic medications.
    12/2013; 17. DOI:10.1007/7854_2013_259
  • Source
    • "Since the early 1990s, several large studies (Tiihonen et al., 1997; Fazel and Grann, 2004; Swanson et al., 2006), summarised in a 2009 systematic review (Fazel et al., 2009) have shown a modest association between schizophrenia (and other psychoses) and violence. Subsequent studies whilst invoking substance misuse as an important mediator, have offered yet further support (Elbogen and Johnson, 2009; Fazel et al., 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A small but significant relationship between schizophrenia and violence is well established, but not yet fully explained. Research has highlighted anger as an important factor in precipitating actual violence in general and psychiatric populations. However, anger has not been extensively studied as a risk factor for violence in people with schizophrenia and related psychoses. We evaluated published evidence on the relationship between anger and violence in patients with schizophrenia and related psychoses by means of a systematic review of the literature. A search of main online databases from inception till January 2012 was performed and supplemented with correspondence with authors and data available online. 11 studies which measured angry affect in patients with schizophrenia who had been violent were included in the review. 5 studies with a total of 510 individuals had anger data that were suitable to be pooled in a meta-analysis in form of standardised mean difference values comparing the anger scores of the non-violent groups with violent groups. All the studies included showed significantly higher scores for anger in the violent group compared with the non-violent group with the pooled result expressed as standardised mean difference of 0.74 95% CI (0.53, 0.94) and the Z value for overall effect=7.01. The studies not included in the meta-analysis which looked at 610 individuals, were analysed descriptively and all of them reported higher scores for anger for individuals with schizophrenia who acted violently. There is a consistency of significant association between angry affect and violent behaviour in the context of psychotic illness across various study designs, settings and populations. Theoretical support already exists for this relationship and this review lends further support to explore this relationship further.
    Schizophrenia Research 02/2013; 146(1-3). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2013.01.024 · 4.43 Impact Factor
Show more