The new mission of forensic mental health systems: managing violence as a medical syndrome in an environment that balances treatment and safety
The association between violence and mental illness is well-studied, yet remains highly controversial. Currently, there appears to be a trend of increasing violence in state hospital settings, including both civilly and forensically committed populations. In fact, physical aggression is the primary reason for admission to many state hospitals. Given that violence is now often both a reason for admission and a barrier to discharge, there is a case to be made for psychiatric violence to be re-conceptualized dimensionally, as a primary syndrome, not as the byproduct of one. Furthermore, treatment settings need to be enhanced to address the new types of violence exhibited in inpatient environments, and this modification needs to be geared toward balancing safety with treatment.