Under what circumstances do people with mental disorders become violent? , health and wellness

Violence is currently a public health problem and often impacts the most vulnerable members of the community, such as minors and women. A well-organized society provides people through family and school socialization and the acquisition of moral conscience, integration mechanisms, and emotional connections with other human beings that protect them from getting involved in destructive relationships.

Empathy, as a natural biological command, is the most powerful barrier against violence and cruelty. Unfortunately, there are some human beings who lack this empathic capacity to respond positively to expressions of fear or pain expressed by other people and they have no handbrake to control their destructive tendencies, as well. Even without expressing emotional discomfort (guilt) for the harm caused.

Violent behavior is the result of specific interactions of individual variables and situational factors. Perpetrators of destructive behavior typically have antisocial personalities, endure the indignity of physical abuse, and the glorification of violence. In particular, the absence of fatherly or secure attachment relationships encourages the acquisition of low self-esteem and hinders the ability for self-control to learn to control aggressive impulses. People who have these problems in childhood do not develop empathy for human suffering, may be emotionally insensitive to others and have a tendency to commit violent acts, especially if they resort to alcohol and drugs. Are.

The influence of violent peers or the habit of watching violent video games is important, especially when the intellectual level is low, the subjects have a dependent personality and the normative values ​​in the family and school are poorly internalized. In short, violent youth have developed strategies to control the behavior of others in their family or close environment by resorting to violence; And they have also learned to be emotionally insensitive to its effects.

There are times when violent behavior is expressed impulsively, motivated by anger, and other times when this violence is planned with emotional coldness and is driven by the achievement of a specific objective (robbery, sex or revenge). it occurs. Describing violent people as mentally ill implies a premise that condemns the innocent and forgives the guilty, because it stigmatizes people with mental disorders who have neither done nor will do any harm. ; And mentally healthy people who did this are considered irresponsible. It is a mistake to confuse evil with disease. Psychopathizing of evil is not and should not be the answer.

Despite social anxiety, most people affected by mental disorders are not violent. However, there are also patients who are not receiving treatment (or have abandoned it) and who may adopt violent behavior. When the interpretation of the environment is faulty, resulting in delusional ideas or hallucinations, external reality may be perceived as a threat and the individual may react disproportionately with intense fear or extreme violence.

delusions, hallucinations, alcohol and drugs

Some people with mental disorders lose touch with reality and may attribute hostile behavior or intentions to others. In these cases, patients live under the siege of an imaginary reality in which delusional thoughts (persecution or jealousy), or threatening auditory hallucinations, dominate the will of those who suffer from them and restrict their freedom. The greatest risk in these people occurs at the time of a psychotic episode or when the disorder is not diagnosed. If patients do not recognize the disorder, skip medications, abuse alcohol or drugs, and lack family, social, or community support (social marginalization is a risk in itself), violent behavior is significantly more likely. increases. But it is these circumstances, rather than the disorder, that facilitate their participation in destructive behavior.

If people with severe mental disorders cannot compensate, they may resort to violence when they feel physically threatened (violence as defense), despised (violence as self-affirmation), or wronged. is treated (violence as a form of retaliation). In these cases, violent behavior is an attempt to regulate very negative internal emotional states (e.g. humiliation) and a way to cope with hallucinations or delusional thoughts that can be overwhelming. However, people with mental disorders are not particularly violent. If anything, they are more likely to self-harm or commit suicide, especially if they forgo treatment.

In turn, addictions—particularly alcohol and drug abuse and dependence—are a risk factor for violence, but so are many mediating circumstances. Not all binge drinkers are violent, nor is the violence carried out indiscriminately, but only on the most vulnerable victims. Consumption of alcohol is dangerous for people who are already in an attacking mood. Previous attitudes of hostility and the predisposing influence of an impulsive personality or another mental disorder govern the violent reaction induced by psychoactive substances, which can arise suddenly, unexpectedly, and without regard to the victim. In fact, mental disorders and drug abuse create an explosive cocktail.

Risk and Expectancy Factors

The risk increases if alcohol and stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines or ecstasy, are consumed jointly. In these cases, engaging in violent behavior is facilitated because subjects may begin to have an attitude of extreme distrust, or persecutory or threatening thoughts, which creates deep emotional distress toward those around them.

Many violent people have no mental disorders – that is, they do not have relevant cognitive or volitional disorders – but they show personality changes (of the psychopathic, paranoid or narcissistic type), they lack empathy and tolerance for frustration. They do not feel valued by others, they are attracted to violence, they are impulsive and they need to be involved in exciting experiences.

Like atmospheric changes, violent behavior is not easy to predict. Once the first incident of violence occurs, the likelihood of further incidents increases significantly. Therefore, the longer and more recent the history of attacks, the greater the likelihood of using violence as a form of interpersonal communication. In general, the best predictors of future violence are having previously developed violent behavior, abusing alcohol or drugs, possessing weapons, and having psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia, schizophrenia, or delusional disorder, especially when This has not been established (or medical or psychological treatment has been done). get left.

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