Risk factors for violence among patients with schizophrenia

Sune Bo, Ahmad Abu-Akel, Mickey Kongerslev, Ulrik Helt Haahr, Erik Simonsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Studies of birth cohorts show evidence of greater risk of violence among patients with schizophrenia compared to the general population. However, the contribution of schizophrenia to violence is heavily debated and remains unclear. This debate has spurred research whose focus can be associated with one of the following areas: psychotic symptoms, personality disorders (in particular psychopathy), mentalizing abilities, substance abuse and demographic factors. The aim of the current review is to evaluate the predictive role of these risk factors in the occurrence of violence among patients with schizophrenia. We identified two different trajectories for violent behavior in schizophrenia: one pertains to patients with no prior history of violence or criminal behavior and for whom positive symptoms appear to explain violent behavior, and another where personality pathology, including psychopathy, predict violence, regardless of other symptomatology associated with schizophrenia. Furthermore, emergent data suggest that specific mentalizing profiles can be associated with the occurrence of violence in schizophrenia, an issue that warrants further consideration in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-726
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Mentalizing
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychopathy
  • Psychoses
  • Schizophrenia
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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