Personality Disorders and Domestic Violence

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

The consequences of a mental illness can be far-reaching, including serious criminal charges like domestic violence.

Roughly 50 million Americans (about 20% of adults) live with a mental illness, including personality disorders. You might have heard of some of them like paranoid or schizoid personality disorders. But one that is more commonly linked to domestic violence is narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is officially defined by the DSM-V (the manual of the American Psychiatric Association) as a “grandiose sense of self-importance.” Unlike healthy self-confidence, someone with this disorder:

  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Lacks empathy
  • Manipulates others to achieve her or his own ends
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success

Some of these traits overlap with the behavior of abusers. Both perpetrators of abuse and people living with NPD seek to control and manipulate their victims, for instance.

Is NPD Tied to Domestic Violence?

Mental illness is one of many factors experts have identified as an underlying cause and motivation of domestic violence. One study found out of more than 400,000 police-documented instances of domestic violence, 15.5% of alleged offenders had a mental illness. This includes personality disorders like NPD.

What's significant is that most of these violent acts are committed by people who are not receiving treatment for their illness. Statistics show that medication and therapy drop the risk of violence significantly.

Mental Illness and the Law

Pennsylvania law makes no allowance for mental illness in its domestic violence statutes, even when the illness has been medically diagnosed and documented. Raising mental health as a defense against offenses like harassment and sexual assault would come during a trial period, as an extenuating factor.

Alleged victims might also seek a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) to shield them from their abuser. This swift legal protection separates them accused abusers, whose behavior might stem from an untreated—or even undiagnosed—personality disorder. A judge can issue a temporary PFA without hard evidence or a formal hearing. (That comes within ten days of the order.)

Mental illness comes in many forms, and rarely causes sufferers to become violent. Some forms of mental illness can cause people to act impulsively or irrationally, sometimes with criminal or violent outcomes. These actions carry significant consequences, including jail time and a criminal record.

Mental illnesses need proper diagnosis and treatment by licensed medical professionals. When a mental illness like NPD leads to a charge of domestic violence, an experienced attorney can help.

If you're living with narcissistic personality disorder, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. If your NPD has led to unwelcome consequences, attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of experience handling domestic violence cases and can counsel you on your best path forward.

For more information, contact the Lento Law Firm today. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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