A life in forensic psychiatry

The January edition of the Royal College of Psychiatrists podcast has an interview with Prof John Gunn about his life working in forensic psychiatry.

Forensic psychiatry, the branch of medicine that deals with mentally ill offenders, is something that you rarely hear about unless there’s a (usually sensationalised) story in the newspapers about a crime having being committed by someone with a psychiatric disorder.

It is a fascinating area, and the people who work in forensic psychiatry are often completely absorbing to talk to. If you ever get the chance, ask a forensic psychiatrist about their work.

Psychiatry, in general, is not considered glamorous. When was the last time you saw a politician having a photo call with a group of psychiatric patients?

Can you even imagine a politician having their photo taken with a man who killed his mother when psychotic, because he believed she was trying to poison him?

This is what makes forensic psychiatry so interesting. It attempts to help some of the most stigmatised and shamed people in society.

It also tries to balance this with managing risk from the small minority of people who offend when mentally ill.

And it’s not just risk to others. For example, people with schizophrenia are 14 times more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators, and so forensic psychiatry also tries to reduce the risk of harm to the patient.

In the podcast interview, Prof Gunn talks about the profession, how he became interested in working in the area, and you hear a lot about what forensic psychiatrists do.

Well worth a listen if you’ve ever been curious about the speciality.

The interview starts 17 minutes into the podcast.

Link to January Royal College of Psychiatrists podcast page.

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