Comparison of murderers who are not guilty by reason of insanity and murderers who are criminal offenders

Anat Yaron Antar, Roni Bentzur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Violence, including murder, is sometimes committed by individuals with mental disorders. Correlations between psychotic disorders and violent tendencies have been reported. Israeli legislators recognize that when a crime is committed due to mental illness, the individual is not responsible for his/her actions and is therefore not punishable. This paper examines characteristics of murderers with psychosis, in comparison to criminal murderers in Israel. The study examined medical records of 60 individuals sent to a maximumsecurity psychiatric unit, between 2000-2014, for court-ordered observation after committing murder. It compared records of 30 individuals who were declared not responsible for their actions, unfit to stand trial and admitted under court-ordered compulsory hospitalization (“patients”) with records of 30 individuals whose psychiatric evaluations and the Court found them responsible and fit to stand trial (“criminals”). Between-group differences were found in motives, deterioration prior to the murder, planning the murder and behavior following the murder. Most patients had a history of drug abuse, prior hospitalizations for psychosis associated with violence and previous acquaintance with their victims. Murder, stemming from psychosis, is distinct from other murders. These findings are consistent with findings from studies conducted abroad and have therapeutic, preventive and legal implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-534
Number of pages20
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, William S. Hein & Co., Inc.. All rights reserved.


The study was supported in part by a grant from the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College

FundersFunder number
Max Stern Yezreel Valley College


    • Mental Illness
    • Murder
    • Psychosis
    • Schizophrenia
    • Violence


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