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Psychiatr Prax. 2000 Oct;27(7):336-9.

[Mentally ill and dangerous? Attitudes of female journalists and medical students].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie, Abteilung für Sozialpsychiatrie und Evaluationsforschung, Osterreich.



The realisation of community mental health services may be adversely affected by society's prejudices about mentally disordered people. In this regard, the frequently replicated stereotype that people with mental illness are dangerous is of paramount relevance.


Journalists and medical students were asked by means, of an interview whether they consider certain crimes (murder, rape, arson, larceny, disorderly conduct) to be more frequently committed by mentally disordered persons or by the general population or whether no difference is supposed.


Journalists and medical students agreed about the frequency of commitment concerning offences such as murder (no difference between the mentally disordered and the general population), arson (more frequently committed by mentally disordered persons) and larceny (more frequently committed by the general population). While almost half the journalists supposed that there is no difference between mentally disordered persons and the general population regarding rape and disorderly conduct, just as much medical students charged mentally disordered persons with these offences. Personal contact to people with mental disorders slightly influenced these attitudes to the credit of mentally disordered persons.


Compared with the results of a representative survey among the general population of the old Länder of Germany in 1990, journalists asked in our investigation markedly less often charged mentally disordered people with murder, rape and disorderly conduct. Medical students, in contrast, shared the general population's attitude except for murder.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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