Latest Issue of Science News


News

Rapid emotional swings could precede violence

A tool from physics helps link patterns of psychiatric patients’ symptoms and the likelihood they will commit violent acts

Predicting whether patients with mental disorders will become violent is a dicey business, and one the legal system has thrust upon mental-health workers. A new study encouragingly suggests that swift swings in the intensity of symptoms can often peg which psychiatric patients are on the verge of threatening or hurting others.

Employing a statistical technique called dynamic systems modeling, the new work shows that among psychiatric patients with documented histories of committing violent acts, those whose symptoms of emotional distress rapidly and repeatedly fluctuated from mild to severe during a 26-week period were particularly apt to assault others or to threaten them with a weapon, say psychologist Candice Odgers of the University of California, Irvine and her colleagues.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.