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Common misconceptions about psychosis and violence

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Thousands of Texas residents suffer from mental illness, from minor to severe. Unfortunately, media accounts often link violent crime with mental illness. In particular, severe mental conditions like psychosis are often associated with violence.

But it’s important to understand that many stereotypes are overblown if not outright mistaken. While it’s true that some mentally ill people do commit violent crimes, it would be a poor characterization to say that people suffering from psychosis are likely to be criminals or violent.

Understanding psychosis

Many people don’t understand the nature of psychosis or how it manifests itself. Simply put, psychosis can be defined as a state in which the sufferer perceives an alternate reality.

This can be delusions or hallucinations, either a one-time episode or a persistent condition. It’s crucial to emphasize that a psychosis diagnosis in no way hinges on whether a person is violent or not.

The link between psychosis and violence

People suffering from psychosis are indeed five times more likely to be violent than the general population and 15 times more likely to kill another person. But it’s worth keeping in mind that these rates are nearly identical to the rates of those who misuse drugs, and psychosis sufferers are frequently drug users.

Some context is also necessary: 90% of psychosis sufferers are non-violent. So, if you come into contact with someone with psychosis, the overwhelming odds are that this person is no danger to you or others around them.

People suffering from psychosis are far more likely to harm themselves than they are another person. Suicide is a significant issue among those with psychosis.

A common stereotype equates mental illnesses such as psychosis with violence. But in reality, the vast majority of people suffering from psychosis commit no violent crimes and are no more dangerous than anyone else.