Untreated Schizophrenia Raises Risk of Violence, Study Finds

A study that tracked released prisoners convicted of violent crimes found that mental health treatment affected rates of subsequent violence among those with schizophrenia. Most of the 967 prisoners in the study had no psychosis at about nine months after their release. However, 94 were diagnosed with schizophrenia, 29 with a delusional disorder, and 102 with drug-induced psychosis.

After adjusting for demographic factors, psychiatric comorbidities, and substance use, former prisoners whose schizophrenia was untreated during or after imprisonment were found to be three times more likely to be violent after their release than were prisoners who received psychosis treatment or those without psychosis, wrote Robert Keers, Ph.D., of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues, online today in AJP in Advance. The presence of persecutory delusions appeared to explain at least part of that association, they said.

“[O]ur findings are consistent with those in studies of treatment compliance in psychosis that report that nonadherence to medication is associated with increased risk of violence,” the researchers said. “They are also in line with findings from studies of first-episode patients that suggest that the risk of violence is higher at first presentation than following treatment.”

The fact that a prisoner was untreated for psychosis should be considered a risk factor for violent recidivism, they concluded.



Thank you for this post. What a good article.
I makes me very upset when I go to the old forum and read post after post of family members who want to “cure” this themselves or “pray harder” as a way to cure their loved one. I understand how confusing and disorienting the onsets and transitions are for everyone. But the people I’ve met who are abel to pull their lives back together all got early help.

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I think that the headline to this article would be more accurate if it were to mention that all of the subjects who were studied had been convicted of committing a violent crime. Yes, this study did seem to find that the people with schizophrenia who were studied were significantly more likely to become violent if their schizophrenia wasn’t being treated, but those individuals with schizophrenia who were looked at for this study could hardly be thought to be representative of individuals with schizophrenia at large because all of those tracked for this study had been convicted of committing a violent crime. Maybe a study of a more general population of people with schizophrenia would have reached findings that were similar to those of this study, but we don’t know that since all of those with schizophrenia who were tracked for this study were former violent offenders.



This was done in a prison, where there’s a lot of violence. I went off my meds, but I wasn’t violent, nor did I hear voices telling me to hurt anyone. I have paranoid thoughts people will hurt me, but I would never think about harming another human being. Studies like these make people with schizophrenia sound violent. It creates stigma. Peace out.

That’s drug violence not mental illness. I highly doubt the validity of that study as I’ve read a lot more research which clearly says otherwise. For instance, once someone has a diagnosis that opens them up to a variety of medications some of which violence and suicidal thoughts are side effects.

PS: I’ve also done a little research on some of the recent mass shootings and each one of the shooters was on either a stimulant, abusing drugs, or an SSRI. SSRI’s can affect normal brains adversely and cause permanent psychological and over time, chemical damage. SSRI’s are known to increase violence especially in young adult men.

The idea that schizophrenia creates violence is a misconception. Chaos causes violence. Not being able to confirm reality causes violence. The ability to know fact from fiction may keep one in tune with the world around them. Sanity is vital to our survival, but I know plenty of people who are very comfortable in their delusions.

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See, this is what I would like to figure out- where and how come this violence occurs. I left my partner (with SZ) not too long ago because of his anger and violence towards me. He didn’t take his meds (regularly) and rather self-medicated with alcohol.
So what is then what triggered his anger issues: the untreated illness, the (malice ?) voices or the alcohol? Or just all together?

Can’t say for sure but I’d go with the alcohol. I’ve had a few bouts with it myself and while i don’t get outright violent I can get very snappy and have a bad attitude… and I’ve seen plenty of people (guys) who are very calm if not drinking but when they drink they start fights, sucker punch people, and slap their girlfriends.
Solution is not to drink. I don’t take meds and I dont drink… things are good that way.

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Ok, thanks for the insight :slight_smile:

My theory. During psychosis the brain is flooded with dopamine and other chemicals like perhaps serotonin and glutamate. Other substances like street drugs and alcohol also cause the brain to produce more dopamine. This can perhaps trigger what is called ‘fight or flight mode’. It would be like anyone who feels like they have been backed into a corner and is fighting for their life.

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That was a huge problem for me. I was an alcoholic as well.

When I used to self medicate… I usually forgot to take my meds as well. So it’s a mess that goes hand in hand.

There are many with the illness who are kind… caring… patient.

I’ve had something wrong with me since 5 years old. But I was told I was always a happy little guy. I started drinking heavily when I was 15 and that is when the anger hit…

But the thing is… in my family… ALL the men are Angry drunks. Many of the men in my family have stayed away from alcohol due to not handling it well. My brothers are NOT Sz and they are angry, violent and hateful when they get drunk.

In my humble opinion… This illness makes it hard to trust people and makes it hard to trust oneself… that can cause some understandable anger… but then the alcohol just magnifies it to a whole new hurricane force level…

Ok, thanks for your insight… But then, earlier when you drank- did you understood that you were treating people not well with anger-bursts? Because in my case, my (ex)partner has not much recollection of his anger, let alone apologize for it. And when he had some times that he would apologize: he would always minimize the incident. It seems that he would rather blame others than own it up…

NO. I really didn’t. I thought… I’ve had just a few drinks… I’m still in control… plus it was all them… not me. I could never understand why people seemed to be so touchy and easily upset when I was drinking.

(because I was really hurting them and was too unmedicated to understand and too drunk to care.)

Ah ok… well then it makes sense…