An Aspect of Mental Illness and Violence: The Relationship between the Severity of Criminal Charges and Psychopathology

Christina S. Dell'Anno, Andrew Shiva


The exaggeration of symptoms and malingering are an important aspect of psychological assessment in a forensic setting. This study examined criminality and scores on the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) validity scales to investigate the relation between psychopathology and malingering. It was the investigators' hypothesis that severity of the criminal charges would be positively correlated with the Negative Impression (NIM) and Malingering (MAL) index scores on the PAI, showing increased attempts made by patients to portray themselves in a negative light for secondary gain (i.e., reduced sentence, extended period of admission rather than return to jail; to remain out of punitive segregation). As predicted, the results showed a positive correlation between the NIM scale score and the category of crime. Results also showed a positive correlation between the MAL index and crime severity. The results are consistent with the belief that as the severity of the crime increases so does the likelihood of malingering or feigning of symptoms for secondary gain.

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