Research Output
Beyond Major Mental Illness: Comparing the Life Histories of Patients and Prisoners
  Major mental illness is often perceived to be the cause of and solution to violence by mentally disordered individuals. In spite of this, much research has demonstrated the links between mental disorder and violence to be small, particularly when compared with other criminological risk factors. This paper will draw on qualitative data from interviews with male patients in a medium secure forensic psychiatric unit and adult male prisoners in order to explore the causes of violent offending by these groups. In doing so, it will examine similarities and divergences in their accounts of their life histories and explore what they cited as leading to their offending behaviour. It will be demonstrated that major mental illness is a pervasive intervening feature of patients’ life histories and that acute symptoms do appear to drive violence in a minority of incidents. Perhaps more significantly, their subjective accounts often indicate similar historical, dispositional and contextual factors to those cited by prisoners as leading to their violent behaviour. The paper argues that it is therefore vital to look beyond major mental illness and its associated symptoms in order to understand violence by this group.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    06 July 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Economic and Social Research Council


Haddow, C. (2016, July). Beyond Major Mental Illness: Comparing the Life Histories of Patients and Prisoners. Paper presented at British Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK


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