Are Criminals Mentally Ill?

May 18, 2017

It can be hard to comprehend criminal activity, especially the most violent acts. To many, the only reasonable explanation is mental illness. It may be surprising to you that this is far from the truth. A comprehensive study has been conducted on this topic by the American Psychological Association in order to figure out whether criminals are mentally ill or not. This research has given life to some impressive findings. In fact, it found that only 7.5% of criminals are affected by serious mental disorders.

For this study, researchers at the American Psychological Association analyzed 143 offenders, who had collectively committed 429 crimes in their lives. Three major types of mental illnesses were taken into account when analyzing these criminals. As per the study, it was identified that 4% of crimes were associated with schizophrenia disorders, 3% of crimes were associated with major depression and 10% of the crimes were linked to bipolar disorder. These are very small percentages.

In fact, the American Psychological Association did not find any correlation between criminal activities and mental illness symptoms. People who had committed crimes as a result of mental illnesses had also committed many other unrelated crimes. Therefore, we cannot say that the crimes always take place as a result of mental disorders. Other factors have a much stronger influence on criminal behavior.

Several factors have the ability to lead people towards crimes. These include unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and homelessness. Only a small group of individuals tend to do crimes because of their mental illnesses. More often, people engage in criminal activities because of their social and environmental conditions.

It has been found that about 1.2 million individuals who spend their time inside prisons in United States are afflicted with mental disorders. A considerable number of people who are affected with mental illnesses are on probation. If you were to interview prisoners affected with mental illnesses, you would realize that most of them did not commit their crimes because of their mental illnesses. Instead, the social conditions and environmental conditions tempted them to commit crimes. These facts are proven from criminal history files.

In some cases, people who have committed crimes aren’t solely responsible for it. The people they interact with may have forced them to commit crimes. If crimes took place as a result of mental illness, people would have done them alone, as finding other mentally ill people to commit crimes with could prove a bit challenging.

This isn’t just interesting information. There is a lot of stigma around mental illness. The idea that mentally ill people are dangerous or that they are criminals is harmful and inaccurate. There are, however, many other causes of criminal behavior that should be addressed if we want to live in a better, safer society.