This could be due to the person with schizophrenia engaging in socially unusual behaviour which provokes an aggressive response in others or it could be due to them being targeted by predatory criminals who readily perceive their inherent vulnerability. When a person with schizophrenia becomes violent the victim is usually someone from their own family or someone else close to them such as a carer. When the attacker is female they will almost invariably attack their own children.Schizophrenia and sex Another kind of behaviour that can be considered dangerous is sexually disinhibited behaviour.Perhaps also some health workers have fallen into the trap of being reluctant to discuss the problem of violence in schizophrenia in part, as the eminent US psychiatrist Torrey argues, because of their eagerness to reduce the stigma associated with the condition. Whilst the myth that all people with schizophrenia are violent is not founded in the evidence, it is the case that people living with schizophrenia are more at risk of dangerous behaviour such as suicide or violence while they are poorly.Thankfully violent behaviour is comparatively rare. Most people with schizophrenia are never violent and indeed do not display any dangerous behaviour.Well, studies have shown that people with schizophrenia alone are less at risk of violent behaviour than those with depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders or substance abuse problems.A study carried out about 14 years ago found that around 11% of unlawful killings in the UK are committed by people suffering with schizophrenia but that the number was declining by about 3% per year.
In public opinion schizophrenia is most often associated with violence than with any other type of disordered behaviour.In terms of the total number of homicides there are other risk factors at work which are much more influential.The risk factors for murder in the general population are being young, being male and being drunk.This is undoubtedly fed and reinforced by rancorous and ill-informed media reporting of the subject.Articles and current affairs programmes that focus on violence in schizophrenia whilst ignoring all of the other features of this complex condition, particularly the high suicide rate and telling us very little about the illness in general, are sadly all too common.