It is not currently known how psychotic symptoms are associated with the nature of violence among homicide offenders with schizophrenia, or, more specifically, whether different psychotic symptoms are differentially linked with excessive violence.
To identify factors associated with the use of excessive violence among homicide offenders with schizophrenia.
Forensic psychiatric examination statements and Criminal Index File data of 125 consecutive Finnish homicide offenders with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were analysed.
Nearly one-third of the cases in this sample involved extreme violence, including features such as sadism, mutilation, sexual components or multiple stabbings. Excessive violence was a feature of acts when the offender was not the sole perpetrator or when there was a previous homicidal history. Positive psychotic symptoms, including delusions, were not associated with the use of excessive violence.
These results highlight the importance of variables other than clinical state when examining qualitative aspects of homicidal acts, such as the degree and nature of violence, by offenders with schizophrenia. Further study is needed with a more specific focus on the qualities of the violence among different subgroups of offenders, but inclusive of those with psychosis.