Saturday, January 5, 2013

Psychologist: 'Killing of innocent people can't necessarily be prevented'

"There is no instrument that is specifically useful or validated for identifying potential school shooters or mass murderers,” Stephen D. Hart, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who is the co-author of a widely used evaluation tool. told the Washington Post. “There are many things in life where we have an inadequate evidence base, and this is one of them.”

Even when someone has a history of threatening behavior, the killing of innocent people can’t necessarily be prevented.

The task of identifying violence-prone individuals is even trickier with young people, who have shorter histories and whose normal development often includes a period of antisocial behavior.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have been working for decades to try to figure out whether there’s a link between mental illness and violence, and if so, which people are likely to act. Using an ever-changing tool kit of theories and questionnaires, they’ve made some progress, according to the Post.

It’s now fairly clear, for example, that people with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some personality disorders, are more likely to commit violent acts than others. But the risk is small. The vast majority of mentally ill people won’t commit assault, rape, arson or homicide, although the risk rises sharply among those who abuse drugs and alcohol.

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