Lethal violence and psychosis: a clinical profile

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1995;23(3):331-41.


To investigate the relationship between lethal violence and psychosis, the authors examined symptomatology, neuropsychological functioning, and the nature of perpetrator-victim relationships of patients with psychotic disorders who were committed to a forensic psychiatric hospital following violent, primarily criminal behavior. A severely violent group, composed primarily of psychotic patients charged with murder, was compared with a less severely violent group that was composed primarily of psychotic patients involved with property crimes. As compared with the less violent group, the severely violent group was more likely to have delusional beliefs about specific personal targets and to have delusions about significant others being replaced by impostors. These beliefs were accompanied by higher scores on neuropsychological tests of intellectual and academic abilities. A high number of their blood relatives were victims of psychotic murder. These results indicated that a higher incidence of lethal or near lethal acts of violence may characterize intellectually intact but psychotic individuals with organize delusions involving personal, accessible targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delusions
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Family
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Paranoid Disorders
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders*
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Violence / classification