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23-10-2018, 17:21   #1
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Now ye're talking - to a psychologist

Our next guest is a psychologist who has worked in a variety of academic and clinical settings, including community mental health teams and with incarcerated men who’ve committed serious crimes.

She is happy to answer any questions you may have, although protecting confidentiality and anonymity is really important so please understand that she may not be able to answer everything.
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23-10-2018, 17:40   #2
freshpopcorn
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Sometimes when we read about a criminal in the media we read they are very evil/bad/etc. Do you ever feel sorry for them or think they aren't as bad as the papers make them out to be?
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23-10-2018, 17:44   #3
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Given your breadth of experience.
Have you formed an opinion on nature versus nurture?
And in instances of addiction, do you believe the "disease" model of addiction allows for adequate support and treatment of addiction?

Thanks for taking the time to the AMA, it's the 1st one in a while that's really grabbed my interest
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23-10-2018, 18:52   #4
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Hi all, looking forward to this!

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Originally Posted by freshpopcorn View Post
Sometimes when we read about a criminal in the media we read they are very evil/bad/etc. Do you ever feel sorry for them or think they aren't as bad as the papers make them out to be?
Absolutely. I've worked with a few people whom you could potentially have heard about on the news, and it's astonishing how different they can be in person to how they are reported on. I remember doing a lengthy assessment with one guy who had such a sad story, and came across as someone who had just ended up going down the wrong path out of desperation and confusion. After i'd finished, I googled him and the way he was reported in the news made him out to be an absolute monster. The pictures the media chose to use were ones where he looked totally crazed, which was not representative of how he looked when I met him.

At the end of the day, everyone is human and everyone has a story. A key part of my role is finding compassion for every person that I work with, even if they've done some abhorrent things.

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Originally Posted by banie01 View Post
Given your breadth of experience.
Have you formed an opinion on nature versus nurture?
And in instances of addiction, do you believe the "disease" model of addiction allows for adequate support and treatment of addiction?

Thanks for taking the time to the AMA, it's the 1st one in a while that's really grabbed my interest
You're welcome!

Nature v nurture is quite contentious these days. Many psychologists will argue that nature has nothing to do with anything (see the recently published Power Threat Meaning Framework if you are interested and have a LOT of time of your hands), but I don't take quite such a hard line. My sense is that people have biological vulnerabilities towards certain things, and a combination of personality and life experiences impact how and to what degree those things become expressed. So there may be a genetic predisposition to psychosis, for instance, but I think that alone isn't enough to mean you'll develop symptoms.

I haven't worked much with addiction, so I can't speak with any authority, but my instinct would be to treat it as above. A disease, to me, implies something like cancer - something you can get with no apparent cause or even when you try your best to avoid it. So I don't feel like that fits too well with addiction. As with anything, I think understanding the reasons behind it are key to making permanent changes - if someone can identify when and why they may have used substances, you can start working from there. I also don't like the passive nature of describing addiction as a disease - to me, it sounds like saying it's out of someone's control. If you feel like you can't control it, where's the incentive to take steps to change?
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23-10-2018, 18:58   #5
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psychiatrist & psychologist

Same or different & in what ways ?
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23-10-2018, 19:09   #6
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psychiatrist & psychologist

Same or different & in what ways ?
Very different, but a very common question .

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health. They can prescribe medication and monitor your physical health, if needs be.

Psychologist is a broad term, but generally means someone with a psychology undergraduate degree and further post-graduate training and study. Psychologists are not doctors and can't prescribe medication or monitor physical health. They can work in a variety of specialist settings, such as mental health, education, forensic systems, counselling, academia, etc.

Psychiatrists tend to use what we refer to as the "medical model" - i.e. mental health can be understood similarly to physical health, with an emphasis on the biological basis of mental illness.

Psychologists who work specifically with mental health are called Clinical Psychologists (which requires a 3 year doctorate to qualify, so they are referred to as Doctor - that increases the confusion!). They tend to take a broader view of mental health, using something more along the lines of the biopsychosocial model of mental health.
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23-10-2018, 19:13   #7
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Is there a thin line in your experience between objectivity and empathy?
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23-10-2018, 19:18   #8
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Presumably from the OP you've worked or at least been involved with in the prison system.

Has this been from an assessment or treatment angle?

Is there (in your opinion) much of an effort being made in the Irish prison system with regards rehabilitation? Would it be useful?

thanks!

(Oh, one more, from what I understand pretty much anyone in Ireland, regardless of education or qualification can call themselves counselor or therapist, how do you feel about this?)
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23-10-2018, 19:52   #9
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I appear to have almost no empathy.
Been to concentration camps etc...zero effect.
Seriously,would this be considered healthy in your opinion?
I suppose the reason for the question is the fact that I've read that a lot of violent criminals can exibit such traits or is that moreso a lack of self control and self conscience?
Thanks in advance.
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23-10-2018, 20:07   #10
 
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Originally Posted by bobwilliams View Post
I appear to have almost no empathy.
Been to concentration camps etc...zero effect.
Seriously,would this be considered healthy in your opinion?
I suppose the reason for the question is the fact that I've read that a lot of violent criminals can exibit such traits or is that moreso a lack of self control and self conscience?
Thanks in advance.
What age are you?
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23-10-2018, 20:10   #11
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What age are you?

41
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23-10-2018, 20:29   #12
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Given the OP (and your experience in prison environments), do you think that males are identifiably more evil* than females naturally or to what degree does the physical strength advantage which males have lead to the occurrence of events with serious consequences and thus create a perception that males are 'wired' to behave in that way more than females.

2nd more important question.
Do you read your horoscope?

* I don't mean to load the question too much using the word evil, you can substitute with a different word if you wish.
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23-10-2018, 20:48   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berties_Horse View Post
Is there a thin line in your experience between objectivity and empathy?
I don't think I understand your question. Could you elaborate on what you mean and I'll do my best to answer?

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Originally Posted by wexie View Post
Presumably from the OP you've worked or at least been involved with in the prison system.

Has this been from an assessment or treatment angle?

Is there (in your opinion) much of an effort being made in the Irish prison system with regards rehabilitation? Would it be useful?
I haven't worked within the Irish prison system, I must confess. But in the forensic system I did work in (it was a secure hospital, not a prison, just to be clear), I have worked in both assessment and treatment. Emphasis was most definitely on treatment and rehabilitation, and the ultimate goal, where possible, was always to try and get someone back into the community.

Aiming for rehabilitation is always the best approach, in my view. It might not always be possible, but it's important to treat someone like a human being who has worth. Many people in the prison system have had truly impoverished lives - not always in a financial sense, but in terms of love and human connection and feeling wanted and valued. As odd as it sounds, secure services could and should be a place where time is devoted to instilling a sense of worth in people. Research tells us that punishment doesn't stop people doing bad things, it just makes them more careful about being caught. But care and compassion and helping people get their needs met in safe or legal ways will be much more powerful in reducing the odds of ongoing offending behaviour.

Sadly, I don't think the resources are there right now, but I hope in the future we'll continue to move towards more of a model of positive rehabilitation.

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(Oh, one more, from what I understand pretty much anyone in Ireland, regardless of education or qualification can call themselves counselor or therapist, how do you feel about this?)
This drives me nuts! Technically, it's the same with "psychologist" - it's not a protected title and anyone with a psychology degree could call themselves a psychologist.

There are varying levels of qualifications, and it's so important for anyone considering going for therapy to check the qualifications of the person they go to. Any therapist worth their salt will be delighted to be asked. You could go on a weekend-long course in "Counselling Skills" and set up a practice if you wanted. The potential for damage is huge. At the other end of the spectrum, you have Clinical and Counselling Psychologists. Both will have completed an undergraduate degree and a doctorate degree, and may have further specialised training in certain therapy modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). So always check!


Quote:
Originally Posted by bobwilliams View Post
I appear to have almost no empathy.
Been to concentration camps etc...zero effect.
Seriously,would this be considered healthy in your opinion?
I suppose the reason for the question is the fact that I've read that a lot of violent criminals can exibit such traits or is that moreso a lack of self control and self conscience?
Thanks in advance.
There are so many reasons that a person might not feel a level of empathy that they would expect to, and I couldn't possibly even begin to scratch the surface of that here. I would say, if you're truly concerned, a quick chat with your GP would be the best first step.
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23-10-2018, 21:06   #14
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Given the OP (and your experience in prison environments), do you think that males are identifiably more evil* than females naturally or to what degree does the physical strength advantage which males have lead to the occurrence of events with serious consequences and thus create a perception that males are 'wired' to behave in that way more than females.
What an interesting question! I'll try and do it justice.

I certainly don't think any one group is more "evil" than the other. I think there are a huge number of factors at play at any one time - things like group dynamics, family scripts, self-esteem, core beliefs about the self, societal pressures, etc. I tend to take a social constructionist approach to things like this - that is, there is no one objective truth but everything is socially and culturally constructed, so an individual's beliefs and behaviours will be shaped by their environment and the people in it.

With regards to your specific question, I think strength is something that's easy to see and demonstrate, and it's easy to identify that a crime happened because one person was physically stronger than the other. It's easy to fall prey to confirmation bias and make a link such as "Men are stronger than women. Men use strength to commit crimes. Thus men are evil". But that would be flawed logic, obviously, same as if the reverse thought process occurred.

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2nd more important question.
Do you read your horoscope?
I do not .
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23-10-2018, 21:13   #15
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Do you think we'll ever to get to a place where resources will actually meet the needs - e.g. CAMHS, autism services, etc?
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