Clozapine Reduces Violence and Persistent Aggression in Schizophrenia

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Violence and persistent aggression are serious problems in the general population and among certain psychiatric patients. Violence and persistent aggression have been associated with suicidal ideation and substance abuse, characteristics of chronically ill, and in many instances, treatment-resistant schizophrenia individuals. Assessment of dangerousness in psychiatric patients involves evaluation of sociodemographic and clinical factors. A substantial number of neurologic and psychiatric disorders are associated with pathologic anger and aggression; of these, the association between schizophrenia and violence/aggression is the best described. Neurotransmitters that have been implicated in aggressive and violent behavior include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Current pharmacotherapy of pathologic aggression involves the use of multiple agents on a trial-and-error basis, with varying degrees of response. Unfortunately, this approach subjects patients to numerous side effects, including the extrapyramidal symptoms associated with the use of conventional antipsychotics. This paper will review evidence for the efficacy of clozapine in the treatment of aggression and violence in the treatment-refractory patient. The reduction in violence and persistent aggression with clozapine treatment should improve the chances for integration of the schizophrenia patient into the community and provide cost savings to society.

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 3):8–14