Personality Disorder and Criminal Behaviour

What Is the Nature of the Relationship?

Sophie Davison; Aleksandar Janca


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(1):39-45. 

In This Article

Filicide and Personality Disorder

Kauppi et al. in Finland[14•] examined filicides (killing one's child) in Finland over a 25-year period to look at the difference between those perpetrated by the mother and by the father. In Finland, a psychiatric examination is conducted on all individuals charged with homicide and other serious offences so the sample can be expected to be representative. They found 200 filicides, of which 59% were committed by mothers, 39% by fathers and 2% by stepfathers. Fifty-six percent of cases involved the killing of neonates. There were 75 filicide–suicides. There were 65 filicides left over, which were classified as 'other filicides'. It was only for these cases that the authors examined the diagnosis. Fifty-one percent of maternal perpetrators had psychosis or psychotic depression and 76% were deemed not responsible for their actions by reason of insanity. On the contrary, 67% of paternal perpetrators had personality disorder, 45% abused alcohol and there were high rates of marital jealousy and domestic violence. Eighteen percent of the male perpetrators were deemed not responsible on the grounds of insanity. The presence of significant life stressors amongst the male perpetrators included marital break-up, jealousy, fear of separation, long-term substance misuse and low level of education and socioeconomic status. The mean age of the paternal victims (4.2 years) was higher than for those killed by their mothers (2.2). This is evidence suggesting different mechanisms linking personality disorder and killing one's child from those at play in psychosis. It also shows a different view taken by the courts regarding the responsibility for one's actions in personality disorder as opposed to psychosis.


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