No Significant Connection Between Mental Illness And Crime


A study of correlations between symptoms and criminal activity in 143 criminal offenders with “mental illness,” published in Law and Human Behavior, finds that “distinguishing between symptoms that are specific to major mental disorder and features that may be found among offenders without mental illness can be difficult . . . Our findings also question the current policy focus on control- ling symptoms as a means toward recidivism reduction.”

Peterson, J., Skeem, J., Kennealy, P., Bray, B., and Zvonkovich, A.; How Often and How Consistently do Symptoms Directly Precede Criminal Behavior Among Offenders With Mental illness? Law and Human Behavior. Online April 15, 2014 DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000075

See also:
Mental illness not a crime; why treat it that way? (Boston Globe)
No Significant Connection Found Between Mental Illness And Crime (Red Orbit)
Mental illness not a driving force behind crime (WECT)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I saw and almost sent the above article by Peterson et al in Law and Human Behavior, but after reading the beginning and seeing it bases its survey and conclusion on bogus DSM disorders with special emphasis on the latest fraud fad stigma of bipolar supposedly associated with the most crime at 10%, I decided that given the rampant overdiagnosis of bogus bipolar, the article is just as bogus and meaningless. But, it does pander to this bipolar fad fraud, so I preferred not to support it in any way. This is especially true now that even Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of NIMH, has admitted what anyone doing a shred of research has known for decades, that DSM stigmas voted into the junk science DSM created for psychiatry to prostitute itself to Big Pharma in the 1980’s to push the latest lethal drugs on patent no matter how much harm done to so called patients or rather their many victims are totally invalid because they lack any scientific, medical, biological, genetic, chemical or any other evidence to prove they exist, which they do not.

    So, therefore, though I find it a positive that some effort is made in these articles to admit that those stigmatized with bogus DSM labels aren’t responsible for most violence, I find it revolting that the evidence of the bipolar fad fraud far outpacing even schizophrenia for supposed serious mental illness in this junk science article certainly exposes the horrific, self serving bipolar epidemic biopyschiatry created to pander to Big Pharma to push the lethal neuroleptics and the lethal bogus “mood stabilizers” based on their usual junk science “theories” proven false per usual on a vast majority of citizens causing huge harm rather than the small minority that were quite psychotic in the past that might warrant such drugs including benzodiazopenes for a short time to stabilize someone so other alternatives could be considered so that they could make a full recovery.

    Fortunately, this web site has had several excellent articles by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff recently exposing the absurdity of taking what used to be the very rare manic depressive illness from which most people recovered (also covered by Bob Whitaker’s books) and converting it into the recent bipolar epidemic of pretending normal ups and downs or good and bad days or even life crises and traumatic events like domestic violence constitute a severe mental illness of bipolar. Dr. David Healy also exposes this monstrosity in his great book, Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, whereby he tracks each of the fad fraud epidemics the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel created to push anxiety (benzos), depression (SSRI’s) and bipolar (neuroleptics and so called mood stabilizers like Depakote never shown to be helpful in the least for life’s ups and downs). Astute observes have noted that due to the horrific iatrongenic effects of benzos and SSRI’s, it was a literal “no brainer” to push the toxic brain damaging (no brainer) neuroleptics to hide the toxic effects of the original drugs. And the same criminals realized they could make a literal killing from the diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, eye damage and other murderous effects for drugs to treat those chronic illnesses from their psych drugs as well. It’s a gift that keeps on giving to the Biopsychiatry/Medical/Big Pharma/Corrupt Government Hacks cartel at the cost of millions of destroyed lives.

    Again, this article does expose the consequences and evidence of the latest bipolar fad fraud with that large 10% of bipolars supposedly contributing to the most crime. No surprise when the mental death profession labels serial killer Gary Sampson and rape victims alike as bipolar as admitted on Dr. Mark Ragins blog on MIA showing that this stigma has no meaning or any real world connection whatsoever.

    As far as I am concerned any articles about bogus DSM stigmas are junk science and just as fraudulent as the DSM and the toxic, useless drugs it was designed to push that made billions for the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel while destroying countless lives including those of children, toddlers and even babies is utero no less as the latest victims or prey. These psychopaths and/or malignant narcissists acting as intraspecies predators via biopsychiatry and other pernicious global corporations are the real dangerous criminals Congress should address, but they won’t since they have been bought and sold by them to create an oligarchy of crony capitalism as has recently been exposed by many experts.

    Physicians and Congress, heal thyself first before pointing the finger at others for the crimes you commit against one and all with impunity.

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    • Bob Whitaker has said of his work that its intention is to take the evidence offered and see if it stands up on its own merits. In like fashion, we take the evidence we find being offered within the standard paradigm that straightforwardly acknowledges contradictory findings, and offer it straight. We leave it to readers and commenters to make sense of it and draw broader conclusions; that is not for us to do, other than in the selection of material from which to draw inferences.

      So, thanks for your comment, and for all your invaluable and seemingly inexhaustible help in sending us articles and news items. It’s been a godsend.

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    • Hi Donna,
      Yes excellent point. And it brings up another point– unless you are controlling for effects of drugs and particularly SSRIs, you cannot separate so called symptom effect from drug effects. As you point out bipolar is largely iatrogenic—=and according to Bob a common route to bipolar diagnosis is ingestion of SSRIs that are given to children with “ADHD” and depression diagnosis. We also know that of all the drugs SSRIs are the ones that most often lead to violence. So there is no reason to assume correlation between bi-polar symptoms and crime is directly CAUSED by former. Even if it is, the symptom is an artifact of a “disease” or “symptom” created by SSRIs.

      Second, another major limitation of this study alluded to by Francesca is we do not know the nature of the crime. For example Francesca astutely writes, “The most common victims of MI violence are psych staff, family members and the police. What’s got to be acknowledged is that these three groups are also the most likely to be inflicting or attempting to inflict violence upon the MI person.” This is not typical crime directed at stranger. This is either an act of self defense or an interpersonal statement, or both The worst response is to send the IP to a prison. Consider her “crime” is an index of a dysfunctional family unit for which the IP is scapegoated. Increasingly in the US, “mental patients” who commit misdemeanors are interned in prisons rather than “mental health” institutions. As bad as the latter are the former are even more brutal.

      But there is no space in mental health sector anymore. So the IP is sent to a prison which he is too sensitive to handle–particularly a men’s prison. Sane social policies would handle these kinds of “crimes” by sending the whole family for out- patient family therapy.(As in Open Dialogue.)This won’t happen but my point is a mind-experiment would lead to the realization that this IS the solution. 20 years ago such IP would not be sent to crimogenic prisons. In the 1980s mainstream media mourned the fact that former mental patients in NY (and other cities) ended up in SROs–and did not get mental health “treatment.” Looking back SRO’s (single room occupancy hotels) were remarkably humane compared to anything today.

      The problem was city government did not want to waste that much real estate on the disadvantaged or poor. So it helped greedy landlords like Donald Trump tear down these SROs and turn them into luxury flats for yuppies. The non-rich and the “mentally ill” were then homeless as NYC became a playground for the very rich. Many of the former ended up in shelters and “mental patients” who used to live in cheap hotels or half way houses had no where to go as all the real estate– even residences for “mentally ill” –were gobbled up by moguls like Trump. They were redefined as criminals instead of mental patients and sent to prisons for long periods for minor crimes. The article above overlooks these macro-social dynamics. It has to: the real cause is neo-liberal capitalism and greed. And who will admit that?
      Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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      • Great analysis Seth. In the mental “care” system you’re supposed to just take any abuse passively because trying to do as much as to refuse being touched is considered violent and aggressive. I’ve heard a “professional” psychiatrists listing tumbling in restraints as violent behaviour. Since when your strapped to the bed violently by multiple people who are pressing your head to the bed a “normal” reaction should be just shut up, calm down and accept? On which planet?

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  2. Kermit,

    Just in case I wasn’t clear, my comment was certainly not a criticism of the posting of the article, Bob Whitaker or the web site by any means though we might not see things exactly the same way as unique individuals. In fact, in my comment, I pointed out that fortunately MIA had recently posted some excellent critiques of bipolar expansionism and imperialism by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff and other great articles in the past and recent past. I referred to Dr. Moncrieff’s recent articles on MIA to refresh my memory of Dr. Healy’s book, Mania, and his many articles on bipolar babble she cites in my frustration with the above article. MIA has posted many critiques of DSM stigmas including Dr. Insel’s Tranforming Diagnosis article on his blog whereby he admits their lack of validity and many other critiques from Lucy Johnstone to Allen Frances from which I’ve learned a great deal. So, I think MIA has done a very good job of posting all sides and I am sure it is no secret that I like many others find the bipolar epidemic especially vile with its nefarious goal of pushing toxic neuroleptics and other lethal drugs on just about everyone on the planet with the latest child/toddler epidemic the most pernicious as most people with a conscience agree that MIA has covered too.

    Anyway, my point is that I think the article is one of many that attempts to do a good thing by pointing out that those with supposed mental illnesses and their symptoms don’t play a great role in perpetrating crime. It was only when I saw the unusually large number of 10% attributed to so called bipolars committing crimes, part of the supposed “seriously and persistently mentally ill” targeted by the likes of Fuller Torrey and Tim Murphy, that the article was rendered meaningless to ME at least while also being a clear and present danger when read/used by the uninformed or those with rights violating agendas at the same time in my opinion. What the heck does that 10% mean given that anyone in the population with completely opposite symptoms, behaviors and environments can be slapped with a bipolar label from a serial killer to a domestic violence or rape victim or those with vague unhappiness that Dr. Moncrieff makes clear do not have anything close to so called DSM bipolar to fuel this gross bipolar epidemic? I was simply pointing out that this rendered that statement on mental illness criminality in this article totally irrelevant to me at least since it was only exposing the huge number of people increasingly being falsely accused of being bipolar or brainwashed to believe they have it, which for many unfamiliar with the truth like MIA members also means they are more apt to be perceived as dangerous, criminal and other nasty things, which plays into the whole forced treatment agenda.

    I understand Bob Whitaker’s position and he has written about his belief that many so called bipolar cases have been iatrogenic from SSRI’s among other things. His book, AOAE, like Dr. Moncrieff also pointed out that before the onslaught of these toxic drugs, people with the very rare illness of so called manic depression tended to have an episode and completely recover to go on and live normal lives unlike today with current treatment often causing permanent disability and a derailed life for the most part. In contrast to this, Bob has been a major force exposing the lethal effects of long term use of neuroleptics with many studies and MIA published the amazing admission by Dr. Thomas Insel that pretty much quoted Bob’s work when he admitted that neuroleptics lacked efficacy for many people and for many people the potential harm of these drugs may not be justified and even detract from recovery given recent studies. So, I think Bob deserves tons of credit even if we may not agree on all terminology and ideas, so I am not inclined to quibble with those like you and Bob who seem to have very good intentions in my opinion and are a very positive rather than negative force in this area. I like others fear the AOT fear mongering crowd that can take such negative statistics about large numbers of supposed bipolars committing more crimes for their dishonest, fascist agendas.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment Kermit. I guess I was initially excited about this article at first, but was greatly disappointed when I saw the bogus DSM stigmas and the huge bipolar percentage claimed for crime when all it tells us in the know is that there is a bipolar epidemic that can now include anyone and everyone on the planet making it pretty irrelevant to me and others aware of this fraud in my opinion, but unfortunately, not others pushing forced toxic treatments for it and robbery of all the more human/civil rights for what has been proven to be lacking the so called benefits claimed while doing much more harm like most psychiatric “treatments.”

    I certainly learn a great deal from you and everyone else on this web site for which I am very grateful and I’m sure other MIA members feel the same way. You do a great job keeping up with the massive amount of diverse issues and the glut of information on that massive topic of “mental health/psychiatry/Big Pharma, etc. And I thank you for that!

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    • I see what you’re saying. I think nearly all “evidence” in psychiatry is bunk scientifically and is little more than marketing. Using the language of that marketing and categories of people labeled with it in the context of violence, or anything else, does not shed much light on reality and does legitimize the machinations of psychiatry and psychiatric taxonomy.

      A lot of independent studies also have too small sample sizes, and I think it’s because the way that psychiatric research is financed now (primarily by drug companies), most researchers can’t afford to study statistically meaningful samples.

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  3. I say thank you to both Kermit and Donna – say it like it is, Donna! May I add, it is a sorry thing our society is wasting so much money having to write articles like this about fictitious / iatrogenic illnesses. How sad the lawyers in this country are not intelligent enough to know that “bipolar” is a “partially or completely iatrogenic illness.” And logically speaking, of course those misdiagnosed as “bipolar,” due to adverse effects from antidepressants, ADHD, and other drugs are going to be made even more unwell and distraught by antipsychotics. Maybe we should start up a “End Iatrogenic Bipolar” campaign?

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    • I’d send money and comments. I don’t trust that I’d make much of an activist because MS is such a fickle and relatively disabling disease that I could not honor commitments consistently and would sometimes not be able to gauge whether or not I could.

      But I would support such a movement to unmask the bipolar fad, wholeheartedly, because I’ve been subject to it.

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    • Bipolar is also, especially in the case of children a go to “diagnosis” of easily understandable behavioural problems. I’ve recently saw a documentary on school to prison pipeline in US and basically the kids who had a ton of reasons to misbehave including obvious things like loss of mother to suicide, imprisonment of a father and so on were labelled bipolar because they had temper tantrums and went truant frequently. They were also made to take drugs, of course.

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  4. Haven’t read the article but from the description it seems like a positive development. In general, when Fuller Torrey et al talk about preventing violence, they are targeting the severely ill, i.e. those alleged to lack insight (because we all know that NOT doing something equates to CAN’T do something). These are the same folks targeted for involuntary treatment. What’s lost in the debate, however, is that involuntary treatment IS violence.

    I know there are lots of studies showing lots of conclusions: some say mental illness is an increased risk factor, other say it makes no difference, and still others alleged a lower correlation with violence. I think there probably is an increased risk of violence but that’s mostly due to mental illness itself being correlated to risk factors, i.e. drug abuse, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, isolation, etc. If you held those confounding factors steady, most of the risk would disappear. The thing is, though, that removing the risk factors would be an uphill battle and would require a paradigm shift in how we deal with poverty, etc.

    But all this misses the point. Even if a person with MI is statistically ten times more likely to commit a violent offence, it is just not acceptable to target individuals on the basis of group statistics. It’s illegal when it comes to race and it ought to be illegal when it comes to mental status.

    One final concern is how we define violence. Are we talking actual criminal convictions or ‘not criminally responsible’ pleas? Or are we talking about the prediction of an underqualified psychiatric social worker? The most common victims of MI violence are psych staff, family members and the police. What’s got to be acknowledged is that these three groups are also the most likely to be inflicting or attempting to inflict violence upon the MI person.

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  5. Although I realize I can tend to get very upset about the bipolar fad fraud due to personal and horrible experience with loved ones I was able to save and seem to over react at times, the following interview of Bob Whitaker by Bruce Levine about Anatomy of an Epidemic shows that neither Bob nor Bruce pull any punches about the huge harm done by biopsychiatry selling out to Big Pharma that led them to create and vote in bogus DSM stigmas used to push the latest toxic drugs on patent. Bob speaks of the tragedy of iatrogenic harm from so called ADHD and depression drugs like Ritalin and SSRI’s creating the tragedy of mania and other symptoms resulting in bogus bipolar stigmas resulting in huge numbers of children destroyed for life along with many adults subjected to the same abuses that derail their lives.

    Bob does put it pretty kindly by attributing this horrific iatrogenic nightmare by the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel as psychiatry’s “delusions.” So, who is really in most need of their so called treatments since their delusions or psychosis from which they greatly profit create a clear danger to others if not themselves?

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  6. I’ve noticed there is a growing tendency to assign psych diagnosis to anyone who commits a crime, especially a heinous one. I remember the Brevik case when he was first evaluated by the “professionals” as schizophrenic which was later changed, even though it was obvious from the beginning that this guy committed his crimes based on ideology (no matter how “crazy” you may think this ideology is). Basically the tendency is to explain every crime away with mental illness, equaling the two. It’s just another example of psychiatry turning every human behaviour, in this case bad one, into mental illness.

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  7. How about showing the people how the Harrimans, Carnigie,and Rockefeller ,families and foundations and think tanks and others funded Eugenics,Euthanasa,Sterilization programs and were able to avoid being brought to trail in Nurenburg ?
    How these same foundations plus others and think tanks ,and the same programs continue in more high tech and time released ways , disguised behind camaflauged doublespeak names like various genetic programs, social engineering programs ,birth control programs ,population control programs, security programs,vaccination programs,monetary fund loans,various aid programs medical dental and psychiatric, drug programs , agricultural GMO and pesticide and insecticide programs, Monsanto and Ely Lilly and other’s, food not fit to eat programs,agricultural programs,food seed control, drugs, chemical, biological agent, or metal poisoning programs, impoverishing , pharmazing ,psychiatrasizing, and ensicking, the population etc, ect, etc.
    See Edwin Black’s book “War Against The Weak” or just simply look around you. See the documentary” Nazi Medicine” on NetFlix.
    When the powerful create an agenda and there is a seeming setback or the population starts to see -through it, they are a little afraid, they simply consult their think tanks rethink their strategy and fund another approach modification toward their goal. They never admit they were wrong , they can change their language confuse the people and continue with their most cruelest crimes against humanity programs, financed by money they stole from the people in the first place while posing as philanthropists and manufacturing respectability for themselves and creating layers between themselves and their crimes against humanity which continue and accelerate. Feudalism through time release euthanasia for fun ,profit, and control,for the good of their own oh so wonderful superior elite families brought to you by those that think they are the deserving owners of the planet and they will do as they please………….?

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