Violent schizophrenic

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The Canadian Press ran a story today about an Ontario judge releasing several accused individuals because the prosecuting attorney was absent. While reading the story today, one thing stuck out. Here is an excerpt from the Toronto Star (other newspapers copied and pasted the same article);

The accused included a man deemed to be a violent schizophrenic, a spouse charged in a domestic abuse case, a disbarred lawyer charged with fraud and a robbery suspect.

I get why the original writer said “spouse charged in a domestic abuse case,” “disbarred lawyer charged with fraud,” and “robbery suspect.” The writer was trying to show the types of crimes committed, and who they are (lawyer and spouse) also says something about their crime (spousal abuse and fraud while practising law).

But the first example he gives is lacking any actual context. No crime is mentioned, no charge is mentioned. All that is mentioned is that the person has schizophrenia and that the person has been violent.

The writer implies (probably not intentionally) that being schizophrenic is the crime.

Is it any wonder people with schizophrenia are portrayed as psychotic in movies when prejudice like this still exists in news media?

8 thoughts on “Violent schizophrenic

  1. I don’t think it implies that schizophrenia is the crime, any more than it implies that being a lawyer or a spouse is a crime. It seems, rather, to imply that being violent is the crime. To me, anyways.

  2. Because the schizophrenic — without competant care — may not be able to control his violence. If they had just said he was schizophrenic, then that would have been a problem. I’m with SR — “violent” seems to be the key word; the fact that it is a person with schizophrenia is a complication.

  3. I still don’t understand why they described the accused rather than the crime s/he was accused of. In the other two examples, the write described the actual crimes.

  4. No, violent means you have a tendency to violence. It doesn’t actually mean the accused did something violent. There is no crime listed. Only adjectives.

  5. I’m with SilverRain, I think the reporter used “violent” meaning he was accused of a crime of violence, ie, assault or property damage.

    Blame the reporter for sloppy writing.

    Most reporters almost always leave out some pertinent facts or raise obvious questions in their articles.

    Another key word is “deemed”. Deemed by who? Was he evaluated by an accredited professional?

    And I disagree with you that violent means merely a tendency to violence. If one has demonstrated a so-called _tendency_ to violence, one had to have actually been violent to illustrate such a tendency.

    If the accused never did anything violent, how would anyone know he had a tendency to violence?

    Also, if the person’s mental state is such that he could not be found criminally guilty for his behavior, the prosecutor/police may have decided not to press any charges for a specific act, knowing that he would be found not guilty by reason of incompetance or whatever.

    Therefore, the ’cause’ of him being before the judge may have been some kind of committment hearing (not necessarily a permanent or semi-permanent committment, but committed or ordered to a treatment facility) such that such a person doesn’t have to be found _guilty_ of anything, merely “deemed” whatever by an accredited psych professional.

    But I blame the reporter for leaving the obvious question unanswered, not the judge or the criminal justice system. Something was left out. It usually always is.

    Your query should be directed at the reporter. We can’t second guess him/her any better than you can.

    (By the way, thanks for the links. I still get a few click-throughs from your blog and web site.)

  6. I’m not disagreeing that the individual committed a violent crime. Unfortunately, we have no idea since no details were given; we are left with our own assumptions.

    Someone can be violent without committing crime. For example, if I regularly punched holes in the walls of my home or turned over furniture when enraged, I could be deemed violent, but that doesn’t mean I committed crime.

    Again, we are left with very little information.

    All we know is he has schizophrenia, and apparently he has been violent at least once in his life. Beyond that, we don’t really know why he was even before the judge.

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