Psychosis Does Not Foreshadow Violence

FROM Psychiatric News Alert: Contrary to the common belief that mental illness is associated with violence, hallucinations and delusions associated with psychiatric disorders seldom foreshadow acts of aggression, according to findings published in Clinical Psychological Science.

The study examined data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study (a project that tracked the prevalence of community violence in a sample of more than 1,100 men and women during the year following their discharge from acute psychiatric facilities) to identify former inpatients with two or more violent incidents, and included interviews with the former inpatients, family members and friends to assess the factors that preceded violent acts. The authors concluded that psychosis immediately preceded 12% of violent incidents following the release from psychiatric facilities. Said study author Jennifer Skeem, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a press release:

“High-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. These findings suggest that psychosis sometimes foreshadows violence for a fraction of high-risk individuals, but violence prevention efforts should also target factors like anger and social deviance.”

For more on violence and mental illness, see the Psychiatric Newsarticle “Capitol Hill Gets Straight Story on Gun Violence, Mental Illness.” Also, see a related article in Psychiatric Services, Applicability of the Risk-Need-Responsivity Model to Persons With Mental Illness Involved in the Criminal Justice System.”

Some of the “Other” Common Symptoms in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is most easily recognized by the symptoms that define it, such as visual and auditory hallucinations (e.g., “seeing things” and “hearing voices”) and delusions, including paranoia. But other symptoms are also extremely common.

Apathy, for instance, is often observed. If a person is experiencing auditory or visual delusions and paranoia – “psychosis” – they they are less likely to engage in day to day activities because the voices and suspicions are controlling the majority of their life. A Person living with schizophrenia can still experience depression even when they are not having other symptoms, the person will show signs of apathy, which can be attributed to the depression. Excessive doses of antipsychotics can also sometimes contribute to apathy.

Negative Symptoms Associated with Schizophrenia

Between 40% and 50% of people living with schizophrenia who have been treated and are recovering

will show evidence of negative symptoms. Negative symptoms include:

• Emotional flatness or lack of expressiveness.
• Inability to start and follow through with activities.
• Lack of pleasure or interest in life.

One distinction of some people living with schizophrenia is they do not expect enjoyable activities to give them pleasure, which likely causes them to not engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors.

Related articles

Stanford study finds auditory hallucinations affected by local culture

FROM STANFORD REPORT, July 16, 2014, Hallucinatory ‘voices’ shaped by local culture, Stanford anthropologist says, by Clifton B. Parker. People suffering from schizophrenia may hear “voices” – auditory hallucinations – differently depending on their cultural context, according to new Stanford research.

Tanya Luhrmann, professor of anthropology, studies how culture affects the experiences of people who experience auditory hallucinations, specifically in India, Ghana and the United States.

In the United States, the voices are harsher, and in Africa and India, more benign, said Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford professor of anthropologyand first author of the article in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The experience of hearing voices is complex and varies from person to person, according to Luhrmann. The new research suggests that the voice-hearing experiences are influenced by one’s particular social and cultural environment – and this may have consequences for treatment.

The striking difference was that while many of the African and Indian subjects registered predominantly positive experiences with their voices, not one American did. Rather, the U.S. subjects were more likely to report experiences as violent and hateful – and evidence of a sick condition. The Americans experienced voices as bombardment and as symptoms of a brain disease caused by genes or trauma.

Why the difference? Luhrmann offered an explanation: Europeans and Americans tend to see themselves as individuals motivated by a sense of self identity, whereas outside the West, people imagine the mind and self interwoven with others and defined through relationships.

Luhrmann said the role of culture in understanding psychiatric illnesses in depth has been overlooked.

“The work by anthropologists who work on psychiatric illness teaches us that these illnesses shift in small but important ways in different social worlds. Psychiatric scientists tend not to look at cultural variation. Someone should, because it’s important, and it can teach us something about psychiatric illness,” said Luhrmann, an anthropologist trained in psychology. She is the Watkins University Professor at Stanford.

See the full Stanford News article HERE.

Special Torrance Appearance by Ron Coleman of Working to Recover Regarding Hearing Voices

Ron Coleman 4Ron Coleman made a special appearance last week to discuss his experience with hearing voices and the Hearing Voices Network, a group of organizations worldwide joined by shared goals and values, incorporating a fundamental belief that there are many ways to understand the experience of hearing voices and other unusual or extreme experiences.

Ron Coleman is a Director of Working to Recovery, Ltd., an innovative mental health training, consultancy & publishing business. He is also a director of the Hearing Voices Network USA’s online recovery training Ron Coleman 2& practice site. At his special appearance for NAMI South Bay he described his training sessions and training packages to enable voice hearers to overcome the negative cultural stigma against the voice hearing experience. His own route to recovery, after spending 13 years in and out of the psychiatric system came from being a founder, member, and then national coordinator of the then UK hearing voices movement. He described some of his many insights into the difficult issues facing today’s mental health services, and his desire to help others gain autonomy and respect.

Presently, the goals of the Hearing Voices Network USA Include:

Ron Coleman 5Raising awareness about voice hearing, visions and other unusual or extreme experiences

Supporting anyone who has had these experiences by providing opportunities to talk about them freely and without judgment amongst peers

Supporting anyone who has had these experiences to explore, understand, learn and grow from them in their own way

Supporting individuals providing treatment, family, friends and the general community to broaden their understanding and ability to support individuals who have had these experiences

Below is an interview of Ron Coleman and his wife, Karen Taylor, discussing Working to Recovery and the Hearing Voices Network.

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor are presently on a tour with the following scheduled dates remaining. NAMI South Bay appreciates and thanks them for agreeing to add last week’s presentation to their very busy schedule.


  • Working with Voices: An Introduction to the Hearing Voices Approach on April 15th from 9am to 4pm in Eagleville, Pennsylvania (Open ONLY to people in the local county. Click HERE for more details.
  • A Conversation with Ron Coleman & Karen Taylor on Wednesday, April 16th from 7pm to 9pm @ Montgomery County Community College, Science Center, Room 214 (Auditorium), Pottstown, Click HERE for more details.
  • A Voice Dialogue Workshop (Accepting, Liberating and Sharing the Voice Hearing Experience) on April 23rd from 10am to 4pm @ The Association for Research and Enlightenment of New York, 241 West 30th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), 2nd Floor. Click HERE for details.



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Successful Meeting about Hearing Voices

NAMI South Bay thanks its guests and members for a productive discussion at last night’s meeting. The group discussed the Hearing Voices support group at Harbor UCLA, led by Brad Stevens, LCSW, Psychiatric Social Worker. Several publications were mentioned and two are shown here with links for those members that were interested in following up:

Living with Voices–50 Stories of Recovery


Hearing Voices a Common Human Experience


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General Meeting Topic: “Hearing Voices”

Brad Stevens, LCSW, Psychiatric Social Worker at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, will present on a movement called “Hearing Voices” at our monthly meeting Monday, March 17, 2014. The movement addresses the symptom of hearing voices that medication may not eliminate and how addressing the voices may assist in recovery. For everyone’s consideration, we will discuss developments in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands of techniques to address the voices to avoid the anxiety and stigma of hearing voices that helps the individual and families address them in their own explanatory framework.

The meeting will begin at the usual time, 7:30 p.m., in the Fellowship Hall at First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street, Torrance, California. A Caring & Sharing Support Group for family members and caregivers only will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Fireside Room at the First Lutheran Church. If the group becomes too large a second group will meet in Fellowship Hall.

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What are Hallucinations?

People experience hallucinations when one or more senses cause them to misinterpret reality. Although the person may be aware that the hallucination is not real, they appear as if it were really happening. This can affect any or all senses:

  • Visual. Visual hallucinations involve seeing things that aren’t there. The hallucinations may be of objects, visual patterns, people, and/or lights. For example, you might see a person who is not in the room or flashing lights that no one else can see.
  • Olfactory. Olfactory hallucinations involve your sense of smell. You might smell an unpleasant odor when waking up in the middle of the night or feel that your body smells bad when it doesn’t. This type of hallucination can also include scents you find enjoyable, like the smell of flowers.
  • Auditory. Auditory hallucinations are among the most common. You might hear someone speaking to you or telling you to do certain things. The voice may be angry, neutral, or warm. Other examples of this type of hallucination include hearing sounds, like someone walking in the attic, or repeated clicking or tapping noises.
  • Tactile. Tactile hallucinations involve the feeling of touch or movement in your body. For example, you might feel that bugs are crawling on your skin or that your internal organs are moving around. You might also feel the imagined touch of someone’s hands on your body.
  • Gustatory. Gustatory hallucination is the sensation of tasting something that isn’t really there, typically an unpleasant flavor. Can be a symptom of certain types of epilepsy, or schizophrenia.