Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Surprising Data Find Mood Disorders Prevalent in Juvenile Murderers. (Maternal Psychiatric History)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Surprising Data Find Mood Disorders Prevalent in Juvenile Murderers. (Maternal Psychiatric History)

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Mood disorders were highly prevalent in a group of juvenile murderers, but psychosis and conduct disorder were not, Dr. Richard L. Frierson reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

This profile, which also includes the prevalence of EEG abnormalities and maternal psychiatric history, differs substantially from earlier research, perhaps reflecting wide geographic variation among youth who kill, explained Dr. Frierson of the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Prior studies of juvenile murderers have produced mixed findings. Several described high rates of psychosis and neurologic impairment among juvenile murderers, compared with nonviolent offenders.

Another study showed that conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and substance disorder were frequent, and, although psychotic symptoms were common, psychotic disorders were not.

A study of 72 South Carolina adolescents charged with homicide showed that their backgrounds were less troubled than those of nonviolent juvenile offenders and they had very little psychosis.

Dr. Frierson reported a retrospective record review of all juvenile defendants admitted to a forensic unit for pretrial evaluation during a 3-year period. Of 142 individuals (aged 11-17 years), 19 were charged with murder. One-fourth of those were female--a higher proportion than in other samples.

Psychotic disorder was infrequent among the juveniles charged with homicide (5%), and conduct disorder (21%) was less than has been reported elsewhere. …

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