Relationship between psychotic disorders in adolescence and criminally violent behaviour: A retrospective examination

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The interaction between psychosis and violence in adults is an important area of research receiving attention. To date there is little available data examining this relationship in adolescence.


To investigate the possible relationships between criminally violent types of behaviour, and psychopathology and social factors, among adolescents suffering from a psychotic disorder.


A retrospective case note study of 39 in-patients diagnosed as having a psychotic disorder and admitted to one of two adolescent psychiatry units (one secure, one open). Cases were divided into a 'violent' and a 'non-violent' group, and these two groups were then compared for social and psychopathological variables.


There was no association between recorded psychopathology and criminally violent behaviour. Criminally violent behaviour was associated with a history of emotional or physical abuse, contact with social or mental health services, and previous criminal behaviour.


These findings fail to echo results of studies in adult schizophrenia; they suggest that violent behaviour in psychosis is associated more closely with social factors than with specific symptoms of the psychotic illness. Potential explanations are discussed.

Declaration of Interest


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