Selling forensic psychiatry : recruiting for the future, establishing services
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Criminal behaviour and mental health. - Chicago, Ill.
, p. 261-270
University of Antwerp
Background and Aim The Ghent Group a group of European forensic psychiatrists has discussed ways of informing fellow professionals and the wider public about their difficult and frequently misunderstood discipline, agreeing that the specialty may have to be sold to those who pay for it and use it. Our aim was to consider the areas where this commonly occurs and the strengths and pitfalls of such promotion. Discussion Forensic psychiatrists need to be effective, accurate communicators. For court work, they need special training. High standards of work are the best selling technique. Outside court, the greatest challenge for forensic psychiatry is to reduce its stigma it can easily be construed, wrongly, as excusing serious anti-social behaviour. Special attention should be given to writing for a wider audience, not just the inner circle of practitioners. Electronic social media should also be deployed for this task. Those who provide funds for academic work should be specifically but differently targeted. They need to be persuaded of the scientific merit of the subject. Ethics Temptation to claim more for the discipline than can be justified have to be resisted. An English case that led to a miscarriage of justice illustrates this. The limitations of science here have to be understood. Philosophical questions relating to responsibility and culpability cannot be resolved by physical science alone. Misuse neuroimaging in court, for example, can lead to miscarriages of justice. Conclusion Selling forensic psychiatry to public and professionals is difficult but essential to counter anti-forensic psychiatry movements that have emerged. The discipline needs to persuade others of its unique skills and embrace good science, compassion, public duty and ethical practice. It needs to treat with politicians and funders as well as the medical, psychological and legal professions. Copyright (c) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.