Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mental Illness and Violence

The February 2008 issue of Psychiatric Services focuses on mental illness and violence. It includes such articles as "Perpetration of Violence, Violent Victimization, and Severe Mental Illness: Balancing Public Health Concerns," "Jail Incarceration, Homelessness, and Mental Health: A National Study," and "Risk of Violence by Psychiatric Patients: Beyond the "Actuarial Versus Clinical" Assessment Debate."

According to editor Howard Goldman, M.D., PhD., the issue "addresses behavioral extremes perpetrated by people with a mental disorder but more often perpetrated against them—by individuals and by society. ..."

Here's more from Dr. Goldman:

"Our field often focuses on the tension between personal liberty and societal protection. It is imperative that we get the balance right. The articles, brief reports, and commentaries in this issue address this set of concerns—the risk of violence and victimization, the proper role for seclusion and restraint and patients' preferences in regard to these practices, and rates of incarceration and homelessness and efforts to prevent these outcomes. At every turn there is the chance that we will underreact and there will be harm—or more likely, that we will overreact and a different kind of harm will result. I believe that we have an obligation to use extreme measures in the rarest of instances, when there is no alternative. When we exploit the dangers associated with mental illness to advance policy, we risk the harm of exploiting the individuals themselves."

"Psychiatric Services" is a publication of the American Psychiatric Association. You can read abstracts for the contents of this issue at

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