APA Discusses Lack of Links Between Violence and Mental Illness

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Blogging from the American Psychological Association annual convention, Lisa Bowen reports on a panel session entitled, “Mental Illness and Violence: Toward Research-Informed Policies and Practice.” Forensic psychiatrist Eric Elbogan discussed one particular study, reports Bowen: “He noted findings of a national longitudinal survey of 34,653 people that looked at 16 risk factors for violence and found that the top five were age, sex, substance abuse, education and steady employment. Severe mental illness in the last 12 months was No. 14, while severe mental illness more than 12 months previously was No. 16.”

“We have to think beyond a psychiatric diagnosis and address protective factors, such as work, education, finances, self-determination, living stability, spirituality, family and social support,” Elbogan said at the session. Another study of 1,399 veterans found that those who did not have these “protective factors,” reports Bowen, were 50 percent more likely to commit severe violence. “Instead of looking at PTSD or other mental illness as a cause for violent behavior, let’s look at if they are sleeping, if they are homeless, or if they are in physical pain,” said Elbogan.


Violence and Mental Illness? Other Risks Play Much Stronger Role
(Lisa Bowen, American Psychological Association Annual Convention Blog, August 9, 2014)

6 COMMENTS

  1. Weird that I find myself agreeing with the APA on this one… I guess it fits in with anti-stigma campaigning. But of course, it doesn’t address the drugs’ culpability in causing much of the violence that is seen from the “mentally ill.”

    — Steve

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  2. Very APA. They are trying to both get out of the business of being expected to predict violence (psychiatrists can’t, and least not any better than anyone else), but still keep the appearance that they are the experts at predicting violence. It seems too little too late to have much policy impact…

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  3. “Instead of looking at PTSD or other mental illness as a cause for violent behavior, let’s look at if they are sleeping, if they are homeless, or if they are in physical pain,” said Elbogan.

    Do I see signs of reason? Wow… Btw, how long did it take to arrive at this obvious conclusion?

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