December Physician Focus: Violence and Mental Illness

Mass killings such as those at the Washington Navy Yard earlier this year and in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut last year continue to raise alarms about the link between violence and mental illness. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly half of Americans – 48 percent – blame the mental health system “a great deal” for mass shootings and for failing to identify individuals who are a danger to others.

The December episode of Physician Focus offers a perspective on the topics of violence and mental illness and explores the link between them.

Guests are John Bradley, M.D. (center, photo), Chief of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of Mental Health for the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System and former Chief of Psychiatry at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Michael Tang, D.O., M.P.H. (right), psychiatry resident at Harvard South Shore Psychiatry, a program of Harvard Medical School. Hosting this program is John Fromson, M.D. (left), Vice Chairman for Clinical Affairs of the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Chief of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital.

Among the topics of conversation are the definitions of violence and mental illness, predictors and risk factors for violent behavior, the pervasiveness of violence in daily life, the role and impact of the media in covering violent acts, the relationship of violence to firearm access, and whether, as public opinion polls suggest, the mental health system has failed in identifying individuals who may commit violent acts.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts and online at and

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