Depression And Mental Illness (Crime) Essay

This essay has a total of 2316 words and 8 pages.

Depression And Mental Illness (Crime)

Depression and Mental Illness: Crime or Violence/ Treatment or Punishment ABSTRACT
Statement of the Problem According to Michael D. Yapko, PhD,(1997) "in every way,
depression is a growing problem. Rates of depression have steadily climbed over the last
50 years and are significantly higher in those born after 1954 than in those born before.
In addition, the average age of on-set depressive episode is steadily decreasing it is now
mid-20s whereas it once was mid-30s. Cross-cultural data show that the United States has a
higher rate of depression and mental illness than almost any other country, and that as
Asian countries Westernize their rates of depression increase correspondingly."(p.37) And
according to the Illinois State Police, (1999), "one of seven depressed people will commit
an act of violence against themselves or others." (p.1) The purpose of this paper is to
view and discuss depression and mental illness risk factors associated with violence. This
paper will view some of the characteristics and violent behavior risk factors associated
with a depressed or mentally ill person. It will also, compare characteristic that
characterize a person suffering form depression or a person that is mentally ill. This
paper will discuss treatment or punishment debated concerning depression and mental
illness in the justice system. Existing studies will be used to help in the study of
depression and mental illness from different sources. Depression and Violence Depression,
according to Webster (1988), is a psychotic condition marked by an inability to
concentrate and feelings of dejection and quilt."(p.364) Depression is most commonly
treatable with counseling, but what happens when counseling fail? Although our current
mental health system is not perfect it has been able to bring us where we are today. The
current methods have benefited many individuals when going through crisis then stabilizing
individuals to the point that they can function in society. So what happens when the
benefits are not reaped? These individuals could go through psychotic change. Thomas
Hudson stated (1978), "the mind has a dual character, which he described as the subjective
mind and the objective mind. The objective mind takes cognizance of the objective world.
Its media of observation are the five senses. It is the out growth of man's physical
necessities. It is his guide in his struggles with his material environment. Its highest
function is that of reasoning. The subjective mind takes cognizance of its environment by
means independent of the physical senses. It perceive by intuition. It is the seat of the
emotion and the storehouse of memory. It performs its highest function when the objective
sense are in abeyance.(p.1) Its when the subjective mind usurps complete control, the
individual goes psychotic."(p.2) When these individuals enter the psychotic state, studies
have shown there can be some risk factor for criminal behavior, but none with solid
evidence. Most individuals with depression are said to have violent behavior and violent
hostilities, but none proven to show any criminal tendencies. A new study according to
Jiri Modestin and colleagues ,(1997), studied 261 male patients who had been hospitalized
at least once at a psychiatric facility, found no link between depression and crimes. He
stated, "depression is strongly linked to increased hostility and to "anger attacks",
inappropriate angry outburst associated with sweating, flushing, abnormal heart rhythms
and "out of control" feeling."(p.6) The results of Modestin study doesn't reveal any
criminal factors, just an individual needing help. Because the depression has already
eroded the person's ability to perceive reality, this combination of conditions can
increase the risk of violence. Some individuals under these condition felt threatened
first before attacks or uncontrolled anger outburst. They did not perceive themselves to
be more threatening or hostile to others, no more so, than any other affective disorder
individual. Usually these individuals are more hostile or violent to the people or persons
close to them. According to K. Taridiff, (1984), "people with severe depression are often
dependent on family for care. Within the family, the person most involved in the depressed
person's care usually the mother is most at risk, with violent person usually being a son
or spouse. One study of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals found that, among those
who had attacked people during the time close to their admission, 65 percent of the sample
had attacked a family member." (p.37) Still, there has not been any solid data linking
depression to criminal behavior, only very violent behavior. But, does violent behavior
lead to criminal behavior? Research has shown no clear cut relationship between violent
behavior from depression and normal criminal behavior. We do know that depression
sufferers suffered in childhood, in the forms of sexual or physical abuse or neglect has
long term consequences, leading to depression related problems in later life and cycles of
familial violence is passed on from generation to generation. These people will continue
to go through this cycle if not treated and in most cases, dangerous or violent acts
committed by persons with depression disorders are mainly the result of neglect or
inappropriate or inadequate treatment. We must understand most depression can and is most
commonly treated by counseling and that depression is not a mental illness, but an
affective disorders that may lead to criminal behavior. Yes, depression is serious problem
in and of itself, is a risk factor for aggression and possibly even for criminal behavior.
Mental Illness and Violence Violence conditions for depression and mental illness are the
same, whether a person has a mental illness or not. Studies of violence and mental illness
has shown that people with a mental illness who came from violent backgrounds are often
violent themselves. Often violent family environments in which alcohol or substance abuse
is common, ongoing conflicts among family members and a controlling atmosphere are
associated with violence by persons with mental illness. Also, people with mental illness
that live in an unpredictable, stressful environment with little family, community support
and little personal understanding of his or her illness, may be at increased risk for
violence. Such conditions are all too common in our society, especially in our communities
with large populations, where sometimes family and social violence are common, as in
substance abuse. Stress can aggravate the symptoms of most mental illness, and
unfortunately, stress is often an unavoidable part of a mentally ill person's life. Very
often, people with severe mental illness end up living in reduced circumstances, forced to
do low paying work when they can work at all, living in dangerous neighborhoods, or much
too often, homeless. Such an environment aggravates the symptoms of a person struggling
with his illness, living in this threatening environment which is worsening his fears. The
combination of his deteriorating environment leaves him withdrawn and needing a way to
vent all of this pent-up rage locked away deep in his mind. This rage when released
usually is overwhelming upon release which usually becomes a violent outburst resulting in
some form of criminal act or behavior. According to a government study, (1983), "a survey
of people with mental illness reported that people with mental illness (schizophrenia:
which affects perhaps one in every 100 people) were nearly nine times more likely than
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