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Mental illness and Violence: An opinion

Mental illness increases the likelyhood of violence but is it as significant as our society believes? That is the question that I try to answer in this article.

Every time a violent act happens, there is concern about whether the perpetrator was mentally ill.  Now, Obama is recommending more mental health screenings in our schools to try to prevent violence.  

While I am in support of more mental health screenings in order to help those who need treatment receive it, I am uncomfortable with the thinking that this seems to show in our society.  I had planned to prove that we, the mentally ill, are not more likely to commit a violent act.  I found a statement by the director of National Institues of Mental Health that said that people with servere mental illness are more likely to commit a violent act.  Here is the quote.

Is violence more common in people with SMI? Yes, during an episode of psychosis, especially associated with paranoia and so-called "comman hallucinations", the risk of violence is increased.  People with SMI are up to three times more likely to be violent and when associated with substance abuse disorders, the risk may increase much further.  But, mental illness contributes very little to the overall rate of violence in the community.  Most people with SMI are not violent, and most violent acts are not committed by people with SMI.

Since I struggle with depression and have been on anti-depressants for over five years, I cried after reading this quote. I have seen people behave as if they are walking on egg shells because of their concern that they will make me cry.  I have seen fear in one person's eyes.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

AWD January 28, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Unlike other fields of medicine, there are no objective, diagnostic tests to give a patient to determine whether they are 'mentally ill'. Infrequent brain imaging and no blood tests. Nothing. The only things they go by to make diagnoses are signs and symptoms. They then make the leap of faith that there is some kind of biochemical abnormality, and treat the 'illness' with psychiatric drugs. And if they can't find anything wrong with the person, they even have a category something along the lines of 'mentally ill, category not otherwise specified' which is kind of like a trash bin of labels just in case they can't find anything wrong with the person but still want them on drugs. Psychiatry is highly susceptible to abuse. Do an internet search of political psychiatry in Communist Russia or China, and you will see that many times, political dissidents have been locked up under the name of mental illness, when those in power couldn't find any other reason to incarcerate them.
Johnny Blade January 29, 2013 at 12:57 AM
I didn't do it i am mentaly ill ... thats right i have NO free will
Randy1949 January 29, 2013 at 03:06 PM
First you need to define 'mental illness'. Depression and psychosis are to different things entirely. Personality disorders are yet another thing. Comparing them is like comparing cancer to diabetes to muscular dystrophy.
NObama 2012 January 29, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Back in 2007 a study by the Institute of Psychiatry showed that Africans and Caribbean’s suffer higher rates of schizophrenia than their white counterparts. Absent fathers, poor schooling, marijuana use and a traumatic upbringing—all factors which the study said disproportionately affect Black communities.
Born Free January 29, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Inbreeding?
carpediem January 30, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Dear Tracey, Depression is not mental illness. Obviously, it is not productive to discuss anything with people who like to quickly move to racist views. Mental illness has also nothing to do with intelligence, Craig. Violence has it's roots in our society, mentality, immorality and spiritual corruption. This country condones violence on every level and is proud of it! The new wave of blaming the mentally I'll is just an excuse, a new punch bag. Yes, everyone has the potential to become mentally ill or violent or both. However, most violence does not come from that corner. Media hype may want us to believe that so we can ostrasize yet another group. They do it with all their sleepy crime shows twenty times a day. They make lots of money from violence and misinformation. Meanwhile the rest of us suffer the consequences and look for someone to blame who can't fight back...Yuck!
Lyle Ruble January 30, 2013 at 03:05 AM
@AWD (Angry White Dentist)....This comment coming from someone who has enough hate and paranoia to float an aircraft carrier. It's obvious that you nothing of the field and by putting out this information is doing a great disservice to people that are living with a variety of maladies. Psychiatric Dentist, a new field of specialty for the treatment of mental health.
Lyle Ruble January 30, 2013 at 03:06 AM
@Johnny Blade....We all know that you have social emotional issues especially with the I.R.S.
Lyle Ruble January 30, 2013 at 03:10 AM
@NObama 2012...Cite the study please, because I can show you all kinds of bogus studies or studies of questionable conclusions. Of course, anything that you write is questionable in the first place. You're such a high intellect source.
Lyle Ruble January 30, 2013 at 03:19 AM
@Craig....Initial onset of schizophrenia usually correlates with the onset of puberty. It is much more common in males than females. It is a rare condition and I wouldn't be overly concerned.
Lyle Ruble January 30, 2013 at 03:28 AM
@carpediem....I hate to disagree with you, but a number of states of depression are a type of mental illness. Whether it is considered mental illness is dependent on the impact of functionality, duration, etc. Many people are on S.R.I.s to treat mild depression, most associated with anxiety control.
Steve ® January 30, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Listening and then agreeing with anything Obama has to say is a mental illness.
Steve ® January 30, 2013 at 04:00 AM
Listening to Obama will give you mental illness.
Steve ® January 30, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Voting for Obama is proof of mental illness.
Bottom Line January 30, 2013 at 05:57 AM
I can't believe any posted here knowing the professor would arrive to tell you that nothing you have to offer is relevant ... he knows all, he has done all, and the rest of you are ignorant.
Born Free February 04, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Illegal drugs! As if alcohol isn't bad enough as a factor in violence the illigal drug issue and violence is at plague level around the world. Anyone that would contest that probably feels like their ox is getting gored. War history even has documented accounts of combatant's fighting in wave's as if they were on potions/drugs, wild crazy and almost unstoppable. Even alcohol can make you feel invincible and well capable of driving at 120 buzzed enough. People kill for drugs and pot too which probably accounts for 99% of the homocides in America, Mexico and South America. Growing up we used to sarcastically with a shrug chalk stupidity of criminals and also for a few lessor non sensical human errors to a person being on "Drugs". Our rationale was geared to wondering just how mindless/delusional was that person? We were probably at the time, way before gang bangers were vogue, more correct about the drug thing then we knew we were! Anger mangement issue's? In the liberal mind anger management is the knee jerk first "cure" solution when they hear racial slurs but, BUT, the solution to a shooting is gun grabbing gun control based on mental illness as the cause. Go figure! Given the fact that every liberal I've run across or read of they all support legalizing pot and to some extent a few other illegal substances which boils down to a ultimatum to society of "legalize it or we'll do something violent". And violence they certainly do, to be deamed mentally ill.

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