Migrants and Refugees Significantly More Likely to be Diagnosed as Psychotic


A team from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Britain’s University College of London found, in a study of 1.3 million people in Sweden’s national register, that immigrants were more than twice as likely — and refugees more than three times as likely — to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. The full study is available for free from the British Medical Journal.

Hollander, A; Dal, H; Lewis, G; Magnusson, C; Kirkbride, J; Dalman, C; Refugee migration and risk of schizophrenia and other non-affective psychoses: cohort study of 1.3 million people in Sweden. British Medical Journal. 2016; 352: i1030 doi: 10.1136/bmj.i1030

Study Finds High Risk of Psychosis Among Europe’s Refugees (Newsweek)

From Newsweek:

“Refugees have a raised risk of mental conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – which brings flashbacks and panic attacks and can render patients emotionally volatile – but until now little has been known about the risk of psychosis.”

Study finds high psychosis risk among Europe’s refugee migrants (Reuters)

Refugees 66% More Likely To Develop Schizophrenia, Psychotic Disorders Than Other Migrant Types (Medical Daily)

From Medical Daily:

“They note some of the possible factors that go into this increased incidence are trauma, abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage, and discrimination, not to mention the social isolation of being in a potentially xenophobic country. “If this is the case,” the authors wrote, “people granted refugee status may be particularly vulnerable to psychosis, given their increased likelihood of having experienced conflict, persecution, violence, or other forms of psychosocial adversity.””

Risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses three times higher in refugees (Eurekalert)

From Eurekalert:

“‘The dramatically increased risk among refugees shows that life events are a significant risk factor for schizophrenia and other psychoses,’ explains leads author Dr Anna-Clara Hollander from the Karolinska Institutet. ‘This illustrates the impact that traumatic experiences can have on serious mental health conditions.'”

Why risk of schizophrenia is three times higher in refugees (The Conversation)

From The Conversation

“The experience of migration and of living as part of a minority are thought to cause stress which results in more frequent cases of schizophrenia in these populations. The authors of this study wanted to know whether refugees, who have been given asylum on the basis of a “well founded fear of persecution” – and so by definition have experienced a lot of stress – show even higher frequency of schizophrenia than other migrants.”

Previous article“Suppressing Traumatic Memories Can Cause Amnesia, Research Suggests”
Next article“‘They’re Waking Up’: Reducing Drugs for Dementia Patients Yields Dramatic Results”
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. Nothing new,

    Victor Győry (born c. 1935) was an immigrant from Hungary who was involuntarily committed to the Haverford State Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1969. He was arrested for disorderly conduct, after a psychological evaluation diagnosed him with schizophrenia with paranoid tendencies. Győry was unable to speak English. Because it seemed to doctors that Győry was speaking gibberish (actually Hungarian), Győry was given electroshock therapy…

    Report comment

  2. It does strike me the psychiatric profession, with it’s scientifically invalid and unreliable “disorders,” and it’s mind altering drugs, is basically just a bunch of opportunists. Basically trying to railroad and gaslight as many people going through a difficult time into the psychiatric system as possible, for profit, rather than actually help people.

    And refugees would absolutely qualify as people going through a legitamtely difficult time. Plus one must keep in mind “psychosis” is just a matter of opinion by a psychiatric practitioner, not a provable medical entity.

    I’m quite certain society would be better off placing trust in those who believe in treating others with love, humility, and an earnest desire to care for all in a mutually respectful manner. Than an industry that has devised a “bible” of invalid stigmatizations to divide and conquer society, whose “cures” for their made up “mental illnesses” are toxic, “torture” drugs.

    Report comment