Violent behavior by involuntarily committed female offenders with mental disorders: A population‐based case series

Alexandre M. Valença, Talvane M. de Moraes, Leonardo F. Meyer, Kátia Cristina Lima de Petribú, Antonio E. Nardi, Mauro V. Mendlowicz

Abstract

The goal of the current study was to investigate the socio‐demographic, psychiatric, and criminological characteristics of female violent offenders with mental disorders involuntarily committed to a forensic psychiatric hospital. The present study was a population‐based retrospective case series including all female offenders with mental disorders found not guilty by reason of insanity by the criminal courts in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and involuntarily committed to a forensic psychiatric facility (n = 27). Patients were assessed with Structured Clinical Interview for DSM‐IV Axis I Disorders and the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. We found that most offenders were Afro‐Brazilian, uneducated unmarried women. Schizophrenia with active psychotic symptoms was the most common clinical condition. Relatives were the frequent victims of aggressive behavior. Most patients had already been diagnosed with a mental disorder and placed under psychiatric treatment, but poor adherence and treatment dropout were common. Violent behavior in psychiatrically ill female patients is associated with a specific socio‐demographic and clinical profile and is thus potentially amenable to prevention particularly if the mental health and social services are to provide the much‐needed support for economically, socially, and psychologically vulnerable women.