Clinical Criminology

Module code: CR3001

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Hodgkinson

Mental disorder has long been associated in the public’s imagination with unpredictability, danger and violence. This link is usually based upon a small number of atypical and high profile cases represented in the media. Ssuch stereotyped and risk-based perceptions of the mentally disordered lead to considerable social stigma.

Historically, our lack of understanding and empathy for the mentally disordered has led to their social exclusion, mistreatment, and even abuse. This media misrepresentation, and subsequent social fear, has led to reactive legislation and policy. ‘Mental disorder’ covers a great variety of mental health conditions, some completely unrelated to criminality, others with a stronger, although still exaggerated and misunderstood association with specific types of crime.

In this module you will look at the spectrum of mental disorder, and critically assess the connection between mental disorder and crime. We will consider the plight of the mentally disordered offender in terms of the conflicts and contradictions they pose for the CJS. This will be placed in a historical, social and legal context. You will critically explore relevant legal provisions and policy, focusing on the competing interests of public protection and fairness for the human rights of the individual offender-patient.

We will then consider special groups of mentally disordered offenders in more depth, comparing and contrasting these offender-patients with the personality disordered. We will also explore the clinical aspects of both multiple homicide and sex offending to assess the role and extent of mental disorder in understanding these serious and emotive offences.

Topics covered

  • An introduction to mental disorders and the medical model
  • The link between mental disorder and crime
  • Provision for the mentally disordered offender within the Criminal Justice System
  • Law and policy surrounding the mentally disordered offender
  • Multiple homicide
  • Psychoses, violence and homicide
  • Psychopathy and personality disorders
  • Clinical aspects of sex offending

Learning

  • 9 two-hour lectures
  • 8 one-hour seminars

Assessment

  • Essay, 4,000 words (100%)