According to studies conducted by Harvard University and published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2009, mental illness and crime may be closely related. The study was conducted on prisoners who had been classified as mentally ill and off their medication at the time they committed their crimes. The study seemed to suggest that if these prisoners had been properly medicated, they might not have committed the crimes at all. Though some experts disagree with the actual numbers, most do agree that in some cases mental illness and crime are connected. People with mental illness also frequently become targets of other criminals, probably because their mental condition makes them more vulnerable.
Sometimes people suffering from mental illness do not get the care they need to function normally. This often leads to upheavals in their lives that sometimes puts them in dangerous situations. Studies seem to indicate that a great many homeless people are also suffering from mental illness, and for some of them, criminal behavior may be a means of survival.
Science has long recognized the link between mental illness and crime. One mental condition that is often associated with violent crime is called “temporary insanity.” It refers to a temporary condition when a person is not responsible for his or her own actions. Though these people are not insane, it is thought that during the time the crime was committed, true mental impairment existed. This type of condition is usually brought about by an extremely traumatic event.
Another mental condition often associated with violent crime is called “criminally insane.” This term frequently refers to psychopaths and sociopaths who often commit violent crimes. Unlike people who are temporarily insane, criminally insane individuals have a deep-rooted mental condition that often traces back to their childhood. There is some argument within the mental health community regarding how much responsibility some of these individuals have for their crimes. Some health professionals believe they do not know the difference between right and wrong, while other experts argue that the criminally insane are often well aware that their crimes are wrong.
Kleptomania is another mental disorder that generally shows a link between mental illness and crime. People with this mental disorder have an uncontrollable urge to steal. The items a kleptomaniac steals are often irrelevant to them and can be something as simple as a napkin ring from a restaurant. People who suffer from kleptomania are frequently arrested for shoplifting and other petty crimes.