Thursday, November 30, 2006

Violence and schizophrenia

The forthcoming edition of Schizophrenia Research includes an article by TAC board president Dr. E. Fuller Torrey on "Violence and Schizophrenia." Dr. Torrey writes in part, as noted by Swanson and Holzer: “No one is served by ignoring the evidence that mental illness is associated with some increased risk for assaultive behavior.”

The violence issue among individuals with schizophrenia is a treatment issue, nothing more nor less. In virtually every case it has been found that the individuals responsible for such homicides, like the young man who killed Dr. Fenton, were not taking medication.

The problem is that approximately half of all individuals afflicted with schizophrenia have moderate or severe anosognosia; they are neurologically impaired and thus unable to perceive their own illness or need for medication. Laws governing the treatment of mentally ill individuals in the United States ignore this fact and make involuntary treatment exceedingly difficult to carry out.

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