Psychiatric clients with a history of violence pose a particular threat to the community. Psychosis and anger are two major factors that contribute to violent behavior. Self-directed violence (SDV) and violence directed toward others (ODV) are patterns of behavior that are of key concern and also increase an individual’s risk for suicide. Understanding which individuals are most likely to commit these types of violence will allow clinicians to develop targeted interventions for psychiatric clients who will be reintroduced to community settings after hospitalization. Marc T. Swogger, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, chose to examine which factors influenced both ODV and SDV. He focused on individuals with personality disorders, substance misuse behaviors, and antisocial tendencies because these psychiatric clients are more inclined to exhibit externalizing psychopathology.
Swogger evaluated the participants for anger and psychopathy. Anger has been linked to multiple forms of violence, including child abuse, domestic violence, and even workplace conflict. Additionally, research has shown that mental health clients who report high levels of anger are more likely to engage in ODV. Psychopathy was examined because individuals who struggle with psychopathic violence are less remorseful and more impulsive than healthy individuals who engage in violence. For his study, Swogger interviewed 851 psychiatric clients prior to their release from an inpatient mental health facility. He completed follow-up assessments every 10 weeks for several months and found that the participants with anger were more likely to engage in ODV, SDV, and co-occurring violence (COV) than nonviolent participants. The results also showed that psychopathy predicted ODV and COV. However, the clients with psychopathy only exhibited SDV in combination with ODV. This finding suggests that clients with psychopathy are likely to succumb to anxiety and anger and impulsively engage in reactive violence. Swogger believes these results demonstrate how specific traits of violent behavior can help reduce the risks to the community. He added, “The measurement of anger and facets of psychopathy during discharge planning for psychiatric patients may provide clinicians with information regarding risk for specific types of violence.”
Swogger, M. T., Walsh, Z., Homaifar, B. Y., Caine, E. D., Conner, K. R. (2012). Predicting self- and other-directed violence among discharged psychiatric patients: the roles of anger and psychopathic traits. Psychological Medicine, 42.2, 371-379.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.