Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 4 Issue 5 (December 1994), Pages fmi-fmi, 313-376

Accounting for the fear of schizophrenia (pages 313-328)


Research over the last three decades has demonstrated that a substantial minority of both professional and lay people have negative and rejecting attitudes towards the mentally ill. We argue that these attitudes may, in part, be a function of a tendency to perceive the mentally ill as somehow inherently dangerous and liable to violence. The evidence for the association between schizophrenia and violence suggests that although people with schizophrenia may be somewhat more likely to act violently than members of the general public, the magnitude of the differential is not sufficient to explain the perceived association. Alternative explanations for the correlation are therefore considered. Specifically, the influences of the media, errors in information processing and the process of stereotyping in accounting for the development of a perceived association between schizophrenia and violence are examined. Finally, the implications for enhancing the acceptance of people with schizophrenia into the community are discussed.

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