Mental Illness and Crime-Stigma

I am so tired of hearing people say “How could that person have done something like that!! They must have been mentally ill!!”

Mental illness on its own DOES NOT create a criminal. The individual has to ALREADY HAVE genes related to criminal behavior, such as a predisposition to violence. Without those genes, someone can have the most severe form of a mental illness imaginable and will still NOT be a criminal.

Mental illness isn’t completely innocent when it comes to criminal behavior, for example just because someone has the genes for something doesn’t mean those genes are active, and may only become active when the person faces a great stressor. Mental illness can act as that stressor, and trigger genes that may have remained silent in an individual otherwise, turning someone who would never have become a criminal into one. However any other kind of stressor could have caused the same result, like if they’d lost their job or a loved one, etc. So it’s not even like mental illness is the sole on-switch for criminality genes either.

Summary: Mental illness does not=criminality. You either have criminal genes that may or may not be triggered by it or any other stressor, or you don’t have criminal genes.

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I once had a criminology professor at my University who was an active criminal profiler. I was taking a psychology of criminal behavior class and we were discussing the terms “psycho” and “schizophrenic.” He had worked for various agencies. He extended his arms and said, they’re two completely different things, violent offenders and schizophrenics. Most mass murderers and serial killers are classified as sociopaths, not sz’s.

Sociopathy is the word this ignorant society is looking for. Naturally, sz’s wind up being the scapegoats because of Normie prejudice.

In my crim class, I learned that sociopaths lack empathy and some take pleasure out of inflicting pain on others. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by people who are labeled as sociopaths and there is a disproportionate population of sociopaths in the prison system (according to the criminal profiler).

In general, sz’s are non-violent. Notable exceptions to this generalization include John Hinkley, the guy who shot at Reagan because he was all convinced it was what Jodie Foster wanted. Also, Sylvia Seecrest was diagnosed as sz in her teens but then went on a shooting rampage at a local mall later on in life. I feel that like many criminal sz’s like Seecrest had a combination of sociopathy and sz.

However that can also create stigma against sociopaths (who I have also done a lot of study on).

The vast majority of sociopaths are not criminals. The majority of criminals may be sociopaths but the majority of sociopaths are not criminals. (Many sociopaths actually excel career wise especially in high stress jobs as they do not become emotionally overwhelmed by things which is why it is also thought most CEOs are sociopathic.) Once again you need to have the genes for criminal behavior, mixed with sociopathy in order to become a criminal. The reason why the majority of criminals are thought to be sociopathic is because someone who is a sociopath and also has genes for criminal behavior is far more likely to act out on their criminal impulses than would a regular person with criminal genes as they do not have the same emotions (ie guilt, fear, regret) as a regular person.

Being a sociopath simply means you experience diminished or no emotion. It does not mean you are violent or a criminal.

Psychopath is generally used to refer to a sociopath who has become a criminal (the more official term for psychopathy is antisocial personality disorder), which is where the phrase “psycho” comes from which has unfortunately become a harmful phrase to refer to the mentally ill as well. It’s also the cause of the confusion between being psychotic and being a psychopath. Many in the general population do not know there is any difference between being psychotic and being a psychopath, which is depressing.


Wondering if these meds would put a lot of us in that category?

Isn’t a sociopath someone who has a personality disorder that manifests in anti-social behaviour and lack of a conscience?

I think there are numerous reasons someone might resort to criminal behavior. Desperation, for example, is a big driver for a lot of criminals. I feel that attributing all criminal behavior to “criminal genes” is oversimplifying.

I do agree, though, that believing mental illness is a predictor is a widespread and harmful misconception.


The genes for criminal behaviour? Are we discussing career criminals and repeat offenders? I wonder if I am classified as a criminal? There’s a lot to read on this thread and I didn’t read it all but I (and someone might have made this point already) don’t think all criminals are born that way. I think plenty of people fall into crime, or its there environment that makes them criminals, or they are misled or are desperate or opportunists, or fall into the wrong crowd. Maybe you mean the MAJORITY of criminals had it in their genes. I know my answer is superficial and not layered or in-depth.

But I for one was brought up in a good home, in a nice environment, with good family values. Unfortunately, periodically during my childhood I participated in theft, minor drug dealing, vandalism, or broke other various laws. As an adult I became a drug addict and did a few nefarious crimes. I guess I’m just obsessing on one point you made but it its a pretty important point.

@Moonbeam This part from the article you posted:

Both lack empathy, the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel.

Is rather simplistic. Empathy can be divided into affective and cognitive empathy . Those of us with asd/asd traits tend to lack cognitive empathy, while those who are psycho/sociopaths lack affective empathy.

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I didn’t say genes alone made a criminal. I said a COMBINATION of environment+genes makes one. And of course there are those who are forced into criminal behavior to survive as @Rhubot said, though I was thinking less along the lines of “stealing for food or money to live” theft and more along the lines of stealing because you want something for yourself or violent crime/rape etc.

Also people can change. Again environment comes into play. Maybe someone has the bad genes, grows up in bad environment, but then later gets into a more stable environment or ages and gene expression changes and they no longer participate in criminal behavior such as yourself.

Plus young people are a lot more impulsive in general than older people which makes them more likely to commit crimes. The grand majority of crimes are committed by young folks.

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They don’t necessarily have to have antisocial behavior, sociopaths can have good social skills too. Not to say some of them aren’t antisocial, in fact it’s a hallmark for many to not really need or desire social contact of any kind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they go out of their way to harm others, like a psychopath/someone w antisocial personality disorder would.

I don’t see anything in that article that contradicts anything I’ve said.