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Mental Illness and Violent Behavior: Perceptions and Evidence

The potential association between mental illness and violence has fascinated scholars, jurists, and the public alike for millennia. Indeed, archival evidence indicates that the ancient Greeks considered mentally ill people dangerous, as did early American settlers. In this entry, the focus is on the link between violence and more serious mental disorders (e.g., psychotic disorders, major mood disorders), rather than the full spectrum of psychopathology, which also includes personality disorders and substance use disorders. It addresses some of the myths about mental illness and violence and presents a synopsis of the vast empirical evidence.

Perceptions of the Link Between Mental Illness and Violence

It was not only the ancient Greeks and early American settlers who feared those with mental illness, it is the contemporary public as well. ...

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