The Louisiana public often assumes that people accused of murder or other violent crimes are mentally ill. In reality, mental illness increases a person’s vulnerability to violent crimes. Conditions like schizophrenia cause people to fear what is not real and not realize what is actually presenting a risk.
Erratic decision making
Schizophrenia is a common mental health disorder that afflicts millions of people worldwide. Its symptoms disrupt people’s lives significantly and leaves them prone to making harmful choices. This happens because schizophrenia can make you unable to concentrate and keep you from understanding what is real and what is a fantasy.
If you have no way to process reality, then predators might see an opportunity to attack you. This is suspected in the murder of a woman who had earned a name for herself on the professional poker circuit. Investigators suspect she was experiencing symptoms when she agreed to meet an acquaintance who was eventually convicted of killing her.
Mental illness not necessarily a murder defense
In the case of the poker player murder, the man who was responsible for it was found to have an extensive history of viewing violent nonconsensual pornography. Although he likely could have been diagnosed with the psychiatric disorder of sexual sadism, this does not automatically lead to violent acts. Many people have distasteful fantasies, but a psychopathic personality is usually needed to push someone into acting out a violent fantasy. For this reason, sexual sadism is unlikely to be used as mental illness basis for a murder defense.
Competency to stand trial
When mental illness is believed to have contributed to a violent act, the court system evaluates suspects. Psychiatrists observe these people to determine if they understood the harm that they were committing.