Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 685–706 | Cite as

Understanding the Relationship Between Mental Disorder and Violence: The Need for a Criminological Perspective

  • Eric SilverEmail author

This paper offers a criminologically informed framework to guide research on the relationship between mental disorder and violence. Criminological theories examined include social learning, social stress, social control, rational choice, and social disorganization. In addition, the “criminal careers” and “local life circumstance” methodologies are reviewed. It is argued that adopting a criminologically informed framework that takes into account within-person changes over time will contribute greatly to our understanding of the factors that affect violence among people with mental disorder living in the community, and enhance the capacity of research to support effective evidenced-based case management programs aimed at reducing violence.


violence mental disorder criminology criminological perspective 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health's Center for Mental Health Services and Criminal Justice Research. Special thanks go to Edward P. Mulvey, Henry J. Steadman, John Monahan, and Brent Teasdale for commenting on an earlier draft of this work.


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© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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