Correlation Between Mental Illness And Violence And Crime

2265 words - 9 pages

Literature Analysis and Research Proposal of the Correlation between Mental Illness and Violence and Crime

Over the past few decades, many researches have strived to test and explain the correlation between violence and crime and mental illness. Moore and Hiday (2006) assert that up 22% of inmates has a mental illness, sometimes containing more mental illness patients than many psychiatric units. Due to these statistics it is evident how important it is to understand the causes of the correlations between crime and violence and mental disorders. This proposal wishes to explain and understand the possible correlation and the reasons for such correlation between mental health illnesses and violence and crime. Further research to test these theories of crime and mental disorders will also be presented.
Crime can be described combination between both behavior and mental factors. This will prove incredibly crucial in the definition of crime in relation to mental illness. Many of those that commit crimes are not convicted due to their illness so it is important to note, for the purpose of this analysis, that all illegal activity is considered crime, regardless of conviction (Monahan and Steadman 1983).
It is evident that those with mental illnesses have an increased likelihood of committing crimes. It is important to note, however, that not all people with mental illnesses commit crimes or violent behavior so a cause is not evident. Substance abuse, a mental disorder, is also seen as a large risk in violent behavior (Silver 2006). Hiday (1995) asks the questions of the direction of this correlation. Does mental illness lead to violence or is it vice versa?
Silver (2006) asserts the importance of using theory when trying to understand and describe the relationship between mental illness and crime. Some researchers assert that mental illness has the same correlating factors of crime, such as age, social class and prior experience (Monahan and Steadman 1983). These theories strive to explain how these factors may have an influence of crime and mental illness.
Social Learning Theory and Mental Illness
The Social Learning Theory strives to show how behaviors are acquired and maintained through various techniques. According to this theory, three basic constructs are apparent. Differential association explains that a person engages themselves in a group that has an acceptance toward crime as a possible means of obtaining necessary life goals. People engaged in these groups learn to view crime as either positive or negative. Differential reinforcement explains how well the participation in crime is accepted and imitation is the final acceptance of the crime by observing others and committing the crime as well. Applied to mental illness, individuals with mental illness are more likely to be engaged with individuals of these ideals due to excessive exposure from close contact in low socioeconomic areas.
Social Stress and...

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