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A General Question About Schizophrenia & Violence

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I was diagnosed with schizophrenia this year. Ever since I was diagnosed people have been acting as if I’m a violent person. I see violent things, but would never act on them, I’m not violent at all. I don’t have a history of violence, but I’ve been seeing things since I was 14. Oh I’ve had the occasional fight like anyone else, but not acted out in violence unprovoked or for no reason. I only fight when someone hurts me or my family members. I don’t understand why everyone seems to think I’m so violent when the last physical fight I got in was at least 5 years ago. My brother-in-law beat my sister and I did attack him, but he was beating her with a belt and welted her all up so I honestly feel it’s justified. I’ve been threatened to have child services called if I babysit for any of my sisters, I’ve had people telling me to stay away from them because they’re scared I’ll hurt them or their loved ones, I’ve even been told if I ever have a baby of my own (I’m infertile so that’s impossible anyways though) that cps would be called the day it was released from the hospital. Even my therapists try putting me in the hospital every single time I go off my meds (I take haloperidol and can’t currently because my gallbladder makes me throw up when I take any meds or eat anything) because “you’re a danger to yourself and others right now.” I only started taking the meds this year, 21 years after the problems started. If I wasn’t violent during those 21 years why do they think I’ll be violent now? It’s not bad enough I see demons and blood and horrible things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, it’s not bad enough I hear screaming a lot of the time, no they have to make it so I can’t even tell them what’s going on without being put in the hospital or evaluated to be put in the hospital. I don’t get it, please can someone explain this to me?

A General Question About Schizophrenia & Violence

Answered by on -

A.

To best answer your question I would need more information about the circumstances in which you were considered dangerous. Without that contextual information, I can only provide a general answer to your question.

It’s possible that you are a victim of stereotypes or that your therapist is recognizing something that you are not. It’s not uncommon for laypersons to believe that people with schizophrenia are dangerous. Part of that is the result of media and misinformation in general. There are specific circumstances in which individuals with schizophrenia can be dangerous but generally speaking, they are more likely to be victims of violence than they are to be perpetrators of violence.

Another possible explanation for why some people think that you have the potential to be violent could be because there may have been times when you were violent and didn’t realize it or even recollect it. Let me explain.

Psychotic episodes are a symptom of schizophrenia. Psychotic episodes involve a break with reality. These episodes involve seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real. Some people who experience psychotic episodes don’t remember experiencing them. If you don’t remember having a psychotic episode, then you most certainly don’t remember your behavior during the episode.

There are several possible theories about why someone might not remember having a psychotic episode. One is that psychosis causes brain damage which could affect memory. Another possibility is that because psychotic episodes tend to be frightening experiences, the memories associated with these experiences are repressed. Powerful psychoactive medications, or the use of drugs and or alcohol, can also impair one’s memory. There may be other reasons as well.

Some studies have shown that videotaping oneself during a psychotic episode might provide insight into the nature of one’s illness. That might be something to explore, with the guidance of a mental health professional.

Have you asked the people in your life why they think you have the potential to be violent? That might help you understand why people think the way they do about you.

I hope that I have sufficiently answered your question. If you more inquiries, please don’t hesitate to write again.

Dr. Kristina Randle

A General Question About Schizophrenia & Violence

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). A General Question About Schizophrenia & Violence. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/11/03/a-general-question-about-schizophrenia-violence/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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