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Adult patients with schizophrenia using violence towards their parents: a phenomenological study of views and experiences of violence in parent–child dyads




To describe the lived experiences of aggression and violence among patients with schizophrenia and their victimized biological parent as the major caregiver being aggressed by their child (parent–adult–child dyads), and to gain an understanding of the precipitating factors influencing violence.


Child-to-parent violence, particularly in the mentally ill adult child, is arguably the most stressful and under-researched issue of family violence. Violence in patients with mental illness is most frequently targeted at family members, and most often takes place at home. Both patients and their parents' experiences of violence are relatively unexplored.


Qualitative study design.


Data were collected using individual in-depth interviews between August 2010–August 2011 in Taiwan. Purposive sample of 14 hospitalized patients with schizophrenia who had aggression and violence in the past year directed towards their biological parent of either gender.


Five main themes were identified: violence occurring beyond control in a particular situation translated into parent and patient's possible endangerment, the repetitive nature of violence, distress, ineffective communication, and management of violence and help-seeking. Repetitive violent episodes and tension made both the parent and patient feel uncontrollable. Parents had a perceived fear of adverse consequences such as being punished by receiving more retribution and they also had concerns related to their parental responsibility.


Health professionals should be aware of the complexity of phenomena and the interplay of factors inducing violence. A comprehensive dyadic parent–child intervention is suggested for violence prevention.