Sunday, February 14, 2010

Personality Disorders

Just when you think that the totalitarian States have a monopoly on debasing criminal justice, it is refreshing to remember that even nice, fluffy governments such as our own are not immune from oppressive urges.

In a famous case, Michael Stone was convicted of a horrible murder and attempted murder. That the evidence against him is slim to nil is not the point of this post but should none the less be noted.

The issue here is the government’s reaction. As Stone had a history of psychiatric illness, the collective urge to see that "something" should be done to prevent future wickedness was overwhelming. And the government bit, with a vengeance.

They proposed that anyone with a "dangerous and severe personality disorder" (DSPD) should be detained until and unless they were assessed to be safe. Those not yet rendered numb to totalitarianism will have noted a vital gap in that sentence: the total absence of having to commit any criminal offence before being banged up forever.

The government didn't quite make that whole plan stick, though significant elements have become very real. The first is the disease of DSPD. It is unknown to the medical profession, being discovered and defined by the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett. Just like certain forms of schizophrenia were discovered (only amongst dissidents) by the Kremlin and treated at the Serbsky Institute during the Cold War.
DSPD is now rampant throughout the prison system, with certain prisons having units dedicated to treating those so diagnosed. This is truly remarkable.

Part of the DSPD diagnosis involves "psychopathy". Until DSPD was invented, the broad psychiatric consensus was that psychopathy was untreatable. But, lo! As soon as it was professionally "sexy", as soon as government promised funding, then the prison service suddenly declared that they had a cure. Hundreds of prisoners are now being detained solely on the DSPD criteria and will remain in prison until they are 'cured'.

A politically-created disease and a venal prison system offering a cure. Does it get more squalid than this?


  1. It is sick for real, yuk,yuk, and double yuk.

    You have spent a long enough time inside Ben, there must be a way for you to get out now.

    I like your writing, it is good,interesting and thought provoking.

    Thanks for doing your blog, it helps me in my life, makes it more bearable at times.

    All good wishes to you.

  2. fascinating article....mental illness issues and psychology have always intrigued me.

  3. Thought provoking and sensible. Every time Ben writes on something like this it reminds me of my experiences with the penal system in connection with my son. Why does the system have no space for treating and accepting people as individual? Just because one does not agree with the 'system' does not mean one has a PD etc.