Is the criminal a mental patient?

Hi everyone,

In my previous post, I discussed about what a mental disorder is. In this post, I will look into the definition of mental disorder in the forensic perspective. As we know that some criminals, after committed a crime claim that they had mental disorder. Whether they were truly mental patients is a question that is addressed by forensic psychologists. In most cases the diagnosis of a mental disorder is not sufficient to establish the existence for legal purposes of a “mental disorder,” “mental disability,” “mental disease,” or “mental defect.” In order to determine if an individual meets a legal standard, some additional information is needed, for example, to what extent the impairment is affecting the person’s life.

In order to determine that the person has conducted the crime not because he was mentally ill, but because of his ill-intentions, the help of both clinical psychologists and forensic psychologists is needed, along with consultation from non-clinical decision makers.

It should also be noted that an individual diagnosed of a mental disorder can be capable to control his criminal intentions/ acts, thus, having the diagnosis in itself does not demonstrate that a particular individual is (or was) unable to control his or her behavior at the time of crime.

Thus, while determining an individual to be a criminal, while he claims that he is a mental patient, several factors should be taken into consideration before making a final judgement.

About the author: monajam

Clinical Psychologist, PhD


Nice post about criminal psychology

6 months ago