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"A terror to their neighbors": beliefs about mental disorder and violence in historical and cultural perspective.

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  • 1School of Law, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22901.


This tribute to the enduring legacy of Bernard Diamond explores public perceptions of a link between mental disorder and violent behavior. Research on contemporary American beliefs is summarized and compared both to historical accounts of public perceptions in Western cultures and to anthropological investigations of public perceptions in non-Western cultures. The conclusion of these reviews is that the belief that mental disorder bears some moderate association with violent behavior is both historically invariant and culturally universal.

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