Aggressive Behavior Among Persons With Schizophrenia and Those Who Are Developing Schizophrenia: Attempting to Understand the Limited Evidence on Causality [2017]

People with, and those who are developing, schizophrenia are at increased risk to engage in aggressive behavior (AGB). Some incidents lead to criminal prosecution. Most people with schizophrenia who commit crimes engage in delinquency and/or AGB prior to first episode. A large proportion of these individuals have a history of childhood conduct disorder (CD) and brain abnormalities suggestive of abnormal neural development distinctive from that of others with schizophrenia. Factors contributing to schizophrenia that is preceded by CD include failing to learn not-to-behave aggressively in early childhood, impairments in understanding emotions in the faces of others, maltreatment, and subsequent re-victimization. Others with no history of antisocial behavior begin engaging in AGB as positive symptoms increase and illness onsets. They too are at elevated risk to be victimized. Specific genetic variants linked to stress regulation in combination with adversity have been associated both with AGB and psychotic symptoms. Effectively treating conduct problems and preventing victimization would reduce AGB by persons with schizophrenia.

Sheilagh Hodgins
Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 43, Issue 5, September 2017