Role of Psychological Disorders in Provoking Criminal Behavior

    Breakthroughs in psychopathology have led us to understand mental illness and psychological disorders better than before. With the discipline of psychology expanding its knowledge every year, now is the time we see the subject flourish and give back to society. The subject of psychology has implications on a diverse range of social avenues. These range from education to business and, of course, the criminal justice system. The latter of which will be the subject of this article. 

    Mental illness and psychological disorders don’t just influence the individual and their well-being. If the person is suffering from a profound case of distress, they may reflect the negative emotions on others. Criminal behavior and psychological distress have a positive relationship. People who commit heinous crimes have a history of psychological disorders and issues. Whether it’s something as common as depression or a case as severe as schizophrenia, people need to understand the relationship between the two. 

    This article will look at the role which psychological disorders play in provoking criminal behavior. By the end of this write-up, you will have a good understanding of which illnesses are related to criminal behavior and why. 

    Traumatic history and future criminal activity

    Forensic psychologists often highlight the role of childhood trauma in criminal activity. Neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse all play a profound role in the prevalence of criminal and anti-social behaviors. In addition, flashbacks and emotional arousal related to the traumatic event can cause a person to lash out and act in ways they typically wouldn’t otherwise. 

    PTSD episodes can lead to manic phases and loss of control in the subject. For this purpose, forensic psychologists often look for a history of childhood trauma in criminals, and they often find a link. The field of forensic psychology is snowballing, given the widespread need to curb crimes and malpractices. Many youngsters are eagerly pursuing it to ensure a stable society free from all sorts of heinous crimes.

    If you are interested in mental illness and criminal behavior research, consider a forensic psychology degree online to learn the ropes. Online education has made degree attainment considerably more manageable. Besides, you would be entering a field with colossal implications on understanding criminals and the motives behind their crimes. 

    Psychopathy and grey matter depletion

    Researchers have looked at the relationship between serial killers and their levels of grey matter. It was found that people involved in violent crimes/recurrent homicides had a decreased levels of grey matter in their brains. It means fewer brain cells and neurons lead to a general impairment in decision-making and other cognitive functions.

    That relates to another study that looked at the relationship between psychopathy and grey matter. Psychopathy, too, has a negative connection with grey matters in the brain. As a fair number of serial killers and repeated homicide offenders suffer from psychopathy, we see a common aspect of depleted grey matter between the two conditions. 

    The presence of grey matter gives the individual better control of their faculties. Neurons and glial cells play a crucial role in cognitive functions. Therefore, a lack of them can lead to potential criminal activity. 

    Addiction: Consumption and Distribution

    Many don’t agree with this, but addiction to certain substances counts as a mental illness. However, there are many research articles and findings related to addiction and substance use disorders. 

    There is, unfortunately, a strong link between drug consumption and distribution. People who consume the substances are considerably more likely to engage in supplying drugs to other people. Providing illegal narcotics is a severe criminal offense that could lead to some serious jail time. 

    Unfortunately, the prevalence of addiction is only increasing in modern times. Though several facilities are looking to help rehabilitate people with substance abuse issues, people generally aren’t ready to break the habit. It means that as the narcotics trade increases, criminal activity runs rampant. 

    Which sex is likely to commit criminal activity

    When it comes to mental illness, both sexes suffer silently. However, certain disorders are more prevalent with either gender. For example, females are more likely to suffer from eating disorders. At the same time, men are more likely to suffer from substance abuse. 

    However, suppose both are diagnosed with disorders that can provoke criminal activity. In that case, a man is much likelier to go ahead and commit a crime. Women may suffer from the same illnesses and have the same thoughts, but men are considerably more likely to commit the crime and face jail time.

    We mention gender in this debate because hormones and physical predisposition play a significant role in provoking criminal activity. Studies also show that males with the XYY chromosome are considerably more likely to engage in malpractice. 

    Schizophrenia/psychosis and criminal behavior

    Perhaps the most common illness related to criminal behavior is psychosis. It is a condition where the person suffers from severe impairment of reality and cannot function the way an average person does. Hallucinations and delusions are all too common for people with schizophrenia. 

    A lot of them often quote hearing voices in their heads that tell them to do bad things. These could range from potentially harmless activity such as moving objects from one place to another to extreme commands such as homicide. Hence the reason why it is so challenging to decide motive when the person is mentally unsound. 


    These are some of the typical roles which psychological disorders play in criminal behavior. There are countless other factors related to neurobiology and in-depth psychological profiling. Going over all of them will be impossible. However, the factors mentioned above are some of the most common ones that highlight the link between illness and outcome. It would be wise for the general public to notice these issues to avoid future criminal activity in specific individuals. 

    Though a lot is in progress to treat disorders and curb criminal behavior, there is still a long way ahead. Psychology and criminology are topics that overlap in several aspects. More research and work need to be done to ensure that psychopathology does not lead to criminal behavior. But perhaps we might see some positive changes soon. 


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