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Can J Psychiatry. 2017 Feb;62(2):86-93. doi: 10.1177/0706743716648300. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

New Clinically Relevant Findings about Violence by People with Schizophrenia.

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1 Département de Psychiatrie, Institut Universitaire de Santé Mentale de Montréal, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec.
2 Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Sweden.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Giessen, Gießen, Germany.
4 Vitos Klinik für forensische Psychiatrie Haina, Haina, Germany.



To review findings with clinical relevance that add to knowledge about antisocial and aggressive behaviour among persons with schizophrenia.


Nonsystematic literature review.


Recent evidence shows that individuals who develop schizophrenia present cognitive deficits, psychotic-like experiences, and internalizing and externalizing problems from childhood onwards. Many of their relatives present not only schizophrenia-related disorders but also antisocial behaviour. While the increased risk of aggressive behaviour among persons with schizophrenia has been robustly established, recent findings show that by first contact with clinical services for psychosis, most people with schizophrenia who will engage in aggressive behaviour may be identified. At first episode, 2 distinct types are distinguishable: those who present a history of antisocial and aggressive behaviour since childhood and those who began engaging in aggressive behaviour as illness onsets. Antipsychotic medications and other treatments shown to be effective for schizophrenia are needed by both types of patients. Additionally, those with a history of antisocial and aggressive behaviour since childhood require cognitive-behavioural programs aimed at reducing these behaviours and promoting prosocial behaviour. Reducing physical victimisation and cannabis use will likely reduce aggressive behaviour. Evidence suggests that threats to hurt others often precede assaults.


At first contact with services, patients with schizophrenia who have engaged in aggressive behaviour should be identified and treated for schizophrenia and for aggression. Research is needed to identify interactions between genotypes and environmental factors, from conception onwards, that promote and that protect against the development of aggressive behaviour among persons with schizophrenia.


prevention; schizophrenia; violence

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