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Crime and mental disorder: a literature review


S.R. Hulathduwa

Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenepure, LK
About S.R.
Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Forensic Medicine
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Conceptual uncertainty exists surrounding the term “mental disorder”. It is generally possible to locate a physical cause for physiological diseases making the diagnosis more precise and accurate. In contrary to this, the attribution of “mental disorder” is a subjective assessment usually formed within a given medical and legal framework of the country, mostly influenced by the culture, religion and other sociological factors too. The word “disorder” is the preferred generic term in psychiatry today as classification and labeling of certain mental conditions/states as “illnesses” is a focus of debate. Since the beginning of the human history, the society has associated mental disorders with crime; particularly the more violent forms of crime. Public opinion surveys show that people across the globe think that mental disorder and crime go hand in hand- a misconception revived and propagated mostly by the media. For example, a national survey conducted in 2006 found that 60% of Americans thought that people with schizophrenia were likely to act violently toward others. This article attempts to review the current literature so as to better visualize the yet unsettled proposition of crime and mental disorder.

How to Cite: Hulathduwa, S.R., 2017. Crime and mental disorder: a literature review. Sri Lanka Journal of Forensic Medicine, Science & Law, 8(1), pp.8–12. DOI:
Published on 30 Jun 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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