To assess whether there are shared or divergent (a) cognitive and (b) emotion processing characteristics among violent individuals with antisocial personality disorder and/or schizophrenia, diagnoses which are commonly encountered at the interface of mental disorder and violence. Cognition and emotion processing are incorporated into models of violence, and thus an understanding of these characteristics within and between disorder groups may help inform future models and therapeutic targets.
Relevant databases (OVID, Embase, PsycINFO) were searched to identify suitable literature. Meta-analyses comparing cognitive function in violent schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder to healthy controls were conducted. Neuropsychological studies not comparing these groups to healthy controls, and emotion processing studies, were evaluated qualitatively.
Meta-analyses indicated lower IQ, memory and executive function in both violent schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder groups compared to healthy controls. The degree of deficit was consistently larger in violent schizophrenia. Both antisocial personality disorder and violent schizophrenia groups had difficulties in aspects of facial affect recognition, although theory of mind results were less conclusive. Psychopathic traits related positively to experiential emotion deficits across the two disorders. Very few studies explored comorbid violent schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder despite this being common in clinical practice.
There are qualitatively similar, but quantitatively different, neuropsychological and emotion processing deficits in violent individuals with schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder which could be developed into transdiagnostic treatment targets for violent behaviour. Future research should aim to characterise specific subgroups of violent offenders, including those with comorbid diagnoses.
Ottilie Sedgwick, Susan Young, David Baumeister, Ben Greer, Mrigendra Das, Veena Kumari
Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 51, Issue 12, 2017