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Psychiatr Serv. 1995 Jun;46(6):614-5.

Psychiatric patients' explanations for assaults.

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  • 1Manhattan Psychiatric Center, New York State Office of Mental Health, Ward's Island, New York 10035, USA.


Using videocameras, the authors detected 134 assaults by 40 of 113 patients treated over a 23-month period on a 14-bed intensive ward for violent psychiatric patients. After assailants were approached by an interviewer to obtain their explanations for the assaults, investigators analyzed the content of their responses by assigning up to four themes to each response. Most frequently the patient refused to be interviewed. Assailants who cooperated often claimed to have been playing with the victim, complained of verbal abuse, or said they wanted to stop objectionable behaviors by the victim. The results suggest that assailants may perceive some behaviors by victims as provocations.

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