Women, psychosis and violence

Int J Law Psychiatry. Jan-Feb 2009;32(1):56-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


Psychosis confers a disproportionate risk of violence on women compared with men, but such women barely affect national crime statistics anywhere. Much research in the field does not include women at all. In our literature review, we found that information about women, psychosis and violence generally had to be extracted from studies including women but focussing on men; not uncommonly analyses 'controlled for gender' rather than treating it as interesting in itself. A tendency for women to be older than men at onset of psychosis may not apply to those who become violent, but women with psychosis do seem to start offending later and desist sooner. Rates of seriously adverse childhood experiences are similar between women and men with psychosis, except for sexual abuse-more frequently reported by the women. Some evidence of special patterns for women in the nature of psychosis and violence relationships requires more exploration, as do treatment questions. With so few women in any one service, multi-centre co-operation in research with them will be essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Sex Factors*
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data