Insight and its relationship to violent behavior in patients with schizophrenia

Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;161(9):1712-4. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.9.1712.


Objective: Lack of insight affects the management of schizophrenia. The interrelationship between lack of insight and illness attributes in patients with schizophrenia who commit violent acts is important and underresearched.

Method: One hundred fifteen violent patients with schizophrenia in a jail or court psychiatric clinic were evaluated on measures of symptoms, illness severity, insight into illness, and the legal consequences of their illness ("forensic insight"). A sample of nonviolent patients served as a comparison group.

Results: Compared with the nonviolent cohort, violent patients were more symptomatic, had poorer functioning, and had a more prominent lack of insight. Deficits of insight into illness coexisted with a lack of forensic insight, which was also associated with psychosis.

Conclusions: Patients with schizophrenia who commit violent acts have insight deficits, including lack of awareness of the legal implications of their behavior. Targeted interventions to improve insight and treatment compliance in this population are warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Behavioral Symptoms / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Trail Making Test
  • Violence / psychology*