Violence, Mental Disorder and the Law

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Central issues include the causal relationship between mental disorders and violence, the ability of mental health professionals to predict violence, and the appropriate consequences for a person with mental illness who commits violence or who is predicted to be violent. Legal issues include civil commitment, the insanity defense, the prediction of future dangerousness, antidiscrimination law, and the new liabilities created by managed care. The past 25 years of debate and discussion have forced the rethinking of some of the assumptions of the legal system, as well as a critical examination in the mental health professions of practitioners' abilities and potential for contributions in the areas of risk assessment and legal decisionmaking. In this debate, neither mental health professionals, the courts, nor academicians have approached a crucial issue: the lack of explicit standards for assessing risk and the need to establishing professionally sanction standards in this area. Assessment standards are needed to reduce the possibility of errors, to determine liability in cases resulting in problems, and to prevent overly conservative practice in the absence of standards. Note and 63 references

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Violence, Mental Disorder and the Law, in M. Costanza & S. Oskamp (Eds.), Violence and the Law, Sage, p. 161-180

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