Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
O'Reilly, K;O'Connell, P;O'Sullivan, D;Corvin, A;Sheerin, J;O'Flynn, P;Donohoe, G;McCarthy, H;Ambrosh, D;O'Donnell, M;Ryan, A;Kennedy, HG
2019
December
BMC Psychiatry
Moral cognition, the missing link between psychotic symptoms and acts of violence: a cross-sectional national forensic cohort study
Published
Optional Fields
DELUSIONS SCHIZOPHRENIA RISK ANGER INDIVIDUALS RELIABILITY PSYCHOLOGY HOMICIDE DISORDER CULTURE
19
Background: People with schizophrenia are ten times more likely to commit homicide than a member of the general population. The relationship between symptoms of schizophrenia and acts of violence is unclear. There has also been limited research on what determines the seriousness and form of violence, such as reactive or instrumental violence. Moral cognition may play a paradoxical role in acts of violence for people with schizophrenia. Thoughts which have moral content arising from psychotic symptoms may be a cause of serious violence.Method: We investigated if psychotic symptoms and moral cognitions at the time of a violent act were associated with acts of violence using a cross-sectional national forensic cohort (n = 55). We examined whether moral cognitions were associated with violence when controlling for neurocognition and violence proneness. We explored the association between all psychotic symptoms present at the time of the violent act, psychotic symptoms judged relevant to the violent act and moral cognitions present at that time. Using mediation analysis, we examined whether moral cognitions were the missing link between symptoms and the relevance of symptoms for violence. We also investigated if specific moral cognitions mediated the relationship between specific psychotic symptoms, the seriousness of violence (including homicide), and the form of violence.Results: Psychotic symptoms generally were not associated with the seriousness or form of violence. However, specific moral cognitions were associated with the seriousness and form of violence even when controlling for neurocognition and violence proneness. Specific moral cognitions were associated with specific psychotic symptoms present and relevant to violence. Moral cognitions mediated the relationship between the presence of specific psychotic symptoms and their relevance for violence, homicide, seriousness of violence, and the form of violence.Conclusions: Moral cognitions including the need to reduce suffering, responding to an act of injustice or betrayal, the desire to comply with authority, or the wish to punish impure or disgusting behaviour, may be a key mediator explaining the relationship between psychotic symptoms and acts of violence. Our findings may have important implications for risk assessment, treatment and violence prevention.
1471-244X
10.1186/s12888-019-2372-4
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