2012 Continues its Shittery, But Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Good evening (or morning, if you prefer). It must have been about three weeks since I last posted, which is pretty much a record absence for me in the almost-three years that I’ve been writing this blog. There are some underlying reasons, I suppose, but primarily my disappearance can be attributed to the usual culprit: that of crippling, fuck you anhedonia. I haven’t been as badly afflicted by the phenomenon since I was a teenager. I mean, depression always carries this demon in its clutches, that much is a given, but it exists in degrees. The depression that has blighted my life so far this year was, initially, relatively free from anhedonia and its cousin, avolition – I blogged quite prolifically around the time of Maisie’s death, after all. I gravitated here when that happened; as it had been, Confessions became my outlet, my place to vent, my catharsis and analysis. In the last few weeks, I haven’t felt that at all.

This apathy and utter dearth of motivation have been compounded by an exhaustion of a magnitude I cannot describe. I’ve been sleeping poorly, and waking early when I do manage to find slumber for a few hours – but it’s more than just that sort of tiredness, for I’ve lived with that for many years. Every step I’ve taken recently has taken the effort that I’d imagine normals would put into a bloody marathon. My head constantly droops somewhere down in my chest – giving the unfortunate impression to the cameras and any other onlookers that I’m orally pleasuring myself – because I have not an ounce of strength to hold it up. My mind is either blank, or thinking repetitive, monotonous, lifeless thoughts. I have, on many days, literally had to tell myself what to do: “move your left foot now, Pan. Good, now move your left. No, no, fuck, sorry! Move your right. Yes, right. Good. Left now. Well done.” And my body aches with this…something. Aches aches aches. And sometimes my mind joins it: it can’t even summon the energy to feel anything with my usual levels of desperation. It currently doesn’t feel raw pain, just like my body doesn’t. It just aches.

[Coincidentally – or not? – the last time I felt tiredness on this scale was back when The Everythinger was here in August. More thrilling musings on that later…]

Perhaps ironically, therefore, I think the depression to which I alluded has abated a little. I’m confident that were I to take any of the usual diagnostic tests that I’d still be deemed ‘severely’ depressed, but, again, it’s about degrees. I do feel a bit better than I did when I last wrote. This could be the normal cyclical run of my supposed manic depression, or it could be down to Lamictal. I mentioned last time that Christine was going to ask NewVCB to increase my dosage of the aforesaid drug; however, NewVCB adamantly refused. Her rationale was something that I didn’t entirely comprehend – something along the lines of not raising the dose when I was planning to cut down on Seroquel, which I think translates as “don’t let her get too used to the stuff just yet, because she’ll need a fuckload more when we start titrating the Seroquel down.”

Why, then, has the drug possibly made a difference? The reason is that effectively the dose has increased. Confused? Well, I’m not sure if I mentioned it before or not, but since I’ve been taking 100mg of Lamictal, that has (theoretically) meant ingestion of one tablet in the morning, and one in the evening. In effect, this has meant one in the evening only – ie. 50mg daily – due to the toxicity that is the infamous Seroquel hangover. Even when I had dezombified five hours later, I simply forgot to take the damn thing. Of late, however, I’ve taken to leaving a strip of the stuff on the bedside table, in order that it is the first thing I see each afternoon morning. With the sun rising earlier, I’m waking (assuming I’ve slept, which is not always the case) earlier anyway, so the morning tablet is taken at a more appropriate time, meaning that the stuff floating around my body is more regulated and less quickly half-lifed away.

So, that’s medication. What else? Ah yes. As reported in the last post, I’d received the brown envelope that all ill or disabled people in the UK fear most: that of a social security assessment form (an ESA50, in this case). I also noted that Christine has said she’d fill it in for me. When I saw her last week, she had indeed done so, the poor, lovely woman. Bless her.

Can you spot the impending ‘but’? To my regret, there is one. To be honest, she’d really written very little about my hallucinations and delusions, referring to ‘hearing voices’ or ‘feeling paranoid’ – and that was qualified by the hideous words of ‘sometimes’ or ‘on occasion’. I hadn’t the nerve to say this to her, but I felt that this wasn’t really an accurate presentation of the issues, so when an brought it home, I modified some of the content, and added stuff in. For example, it asks something like, “are other people frightened by your behaviour?”, and she had ticked ‘no’. I don’t agree with that; I know from experience that people find experiences of those like ‘They‘ deeply disturbing and, yes, frighhtening. Even some cheery ramblings of, “oh, look, that sign’s trying to tell me I’m beautiful!” sees neighbouring eyes widen in horror and concern. And something as ostensibly simple as a panic attack can have people shifting their eyes, crossing the street and then running like the hammers from hell.

By the time I’d modified that which I felt needed alteration, of course the form looked like I was trying to make my condition sound worse simply for the purpose of getting more money, rather than attempting to present reality. I therefore asked my mother to ring the Social Security Agency (SSA) and ask for a new form. “Whilst at it,” I instructed, “ask them why I’m actually being assessed.”

She responded a few hours later advising me that they refused to tell her anything and that I’d have to ring them myself. Cue fucking panic stations galore. Asking me to use the phone, as ever, was like asking me asking me to translate War and sodding Peace or Beowulf into Sanskrit. But needs must, so after perusing the SSA’s website in painstakingly close detail in a futile attempt to obtain an email address for a relevant member of staff, I took a deep breath and called them.

Naturally, this was not a simple process. At first the robotic female who ‘answered’ my call advised me, after talking frustratingly slowly through six years of patronising explanatory shit and in doing so costing me a lot of money, that my call could “not be taken at the minute. We are sorry.” (Read: “we’re on our fag break. Fuck off”). When I called back immediately, after listening to the same initial bollocks, Robot intimated to me that my call was in a queue. How surprising. “Please continue to hold and someone will be with you as soon as possible. Or, if you prefer to call back later, our opening hours are [x, y and z].”

I did not prefer to call back later, so held. Robot repeated the soft and still enragingly slow monologue about 100 times. Why the fuck do they use that voice? Are its lulled t
ones supposed to hypnotise you into compliance? If so, they’ve supremely failed. The only compliance they’ve evoked in me is a willingness to comply with the invoice I’m expecting from the people I sent round to break Robot’s non-existent legs (and yes, GCHQ, that is/was a joke and is not to be taken literally, seriously or as anything other than just a joke. OK?).

The real cunt, though, was fucking Vivaldi. Fuck Vivaldi. To think once I appreciated what I then found to be the majestic chords and melodies for which he was responsible. I swear to fucking God that I nearly rang Matt Smith’s agent to inquire about TARDIS rental. A trip back to 1677 to prevent the birth of the composer seems to be the only solution to this widespread problem; it’s always Vivaldi that is played when you ring any sort of call centre, and so it proved in this case. In between Robot came the first 30 seconds of (I think) Summer. Over and over and over. It would put a sane human being into an asylum.

In the end, the call itself was very straightforward. The girl was friendly, if clueless – when asked why I was being reassessed, she said, “um…well, I think they do this every year, I’m not sure though.”

“Even for people in the support group?” I checked (interruptive spluttering and stammering not included. You can obtain these with my all-singing, all-dancing in-blog purchase function, denoted by a button displaying the word ‘Donate’, at the bottom of this post).

“The support group?” The poor cow sounded genuinely mystified. “Uh…uh, yeah, I think so.”

It was a futile effort, so I told her I’d lost the ESA50 and asked if she’d send another. She cheerfully told me that this was not a problem, that she’d get someone to do it forthwith, and – apart from checking if Mum could ring on my behalf in future (yes; I just need to give details on the form) – that was really that. A simple, inoffensive, unconfrontational discussion that still left me hyperventilating. I wish I could overcome this fucking terror. My only other serious phobia is the old formulaic one of spiders and, as a general rule, that doesn’t interrupt my daily living. Sadly, if I ever want to work again – and I do, I do so much, when I’m well enough – my farcical and excessive anxiety about phones will significantly interfere with my everyday functioning,

Why should it? Why can’t people move into the 21st century and use fucking Twitter or email for their communication needs? Fuck phones.

I can’t believe I just wrote eight paragraphs about a phone call. I become increasingly ridiculous by the day, dearest readers. Moving on, I have now been back under the watchful eyes and perked-up ears of everyone’s favourite psychotherapist, the inimitable Paul, for three sessions. I will actually discuss these in more detail, though to my abject alarm, I’ve lost the notes I kept on sessions two and three. Now, the reason for my apprehension is to do with the fact that they could easily have fallen into the wrong hands, if I am in correct in my assumption that they fell out of my bag or something. However, I will admit to also being irritated for an altogether less ethical reason: I will not be able to record these two appointments here in the fashion to which I’ve become accustomed. Fuck’s sake. This blog has taken over my life. Incidentally, that’s something that actually came up with Paul – in session two? – but I’ll leave you veritably on the edge of your seat in anticipation of that. I’m sure you’re on the brink of self-immolation because you simply can’t stand the wait any other way. Burning ‘grounds’ you, to use modern therapeutic parlance.

What else? I suppose before getting to The Big Thing that I should apologise to many people on Twitter. I dip in and out of it erratically; even if I’m sending tweets, I am not necessarily reading others’ messages, or their @s or DMs to me. I often tweet by text message, and now have a quirky little iPhone app that allows me to tweet under this identity whilst being in another account. So it’s not that I’m ignoring you; I just don’t always see you. Every so often, I log in and see a few messages to me, and sometimes reply, but I’m pathetically incapable of catching up on everything. I don’t know whether this is social anxiety, increasing apathy, an identity crisis or just my being a total knob. Whatever the case, I’m sorry.

Right, then. I live in Northern Ireland, as most of you know. People on this island like to drink alcohol – a lot. Once a year, something comes up that seems to grant them complete impunity to engage in this pursuit: St Patrick’s Day. Perhaps it wil not shock you to hear that I loathe this occasion with a fucking passion; I have a pretty low tolerance for the obnoxious behaviours that many irregular drinkers display when inebriated out of their skulls, and I can’t cope the busy-ness around the place. This year, the event fell on Saturday past. A and I went out for dinner but had to come straight home, which is not at all common for us on that evening of the week. We’re usually in our local.

Anyway, the silver lining around the cloud of St Patrick (who gives a fuck about him anyway? He sounds like a bellend to me) is that A gets the day off (or gets it off in lieu when, as in this case, it’s at a weekend). Monday was therefore free, so we went out on Sunday to make up for our inability to do so the previous evening.

Exactly 51 minutes after we’d left the house, A’s phone started ringing. When he withdrew it from his pocket, we were both perplexed to observe that the caller was my mother. Thinking she was trying to get hold of me, but that my phone had lost its signal or something, I answered it (yes, yes, phone phobia notwithstanding).

The alarm was going off. If they can’t get hold of A or me, they ring my mother first, as she’s closest to our house, and then A’s mother second. A worked out the purpose of my mother’s call, and got ready to leave. I hung up and told him I’d stay in the pub; I would only hold him back by accompanying him (he’s a much faster walker than I am), and anyway, I reckoned it was a false alarm. That used to happen all the fucking time, to the point where I’ve wondered of late how the company responsible for running the thing had managed to improve their product so vastly. So A went back himself, advising that he’d call if anything untoward had happened. Otherwise, I supposed, he’d just return.

A few minutes passed, during which I caught up on some blogs on my Google Reader. In the middle of this, though, I was interrupted by a phone call incoming from my brother-in-law. Truthfully, at my core, I knew why he was ringing – but I let myself pretend that he was calling about joining us in the bar, especially given that he and A had exchanged a few messages about the outing earlier in the day. I duly ignored him.

When my mother-in-law’s name appeared on the screen of my phone, although I again tried to ignore the ramifications of this telephonic confluence of events, I really knew the game was up. This time I answered. She told me that they’d also called her and that my brother-in-law, who was at her house as it transpired, had called the police. In return, I advised her that A had gone back to the house to check that things were in order.

I’d only just hung up when A phoned. It wouldn’t be the last discussion via this medium that day…God, I wish
I believed in exposure therapy. I got a lot of potential practice with it on Sunday.

I knew as soon as I answered that he was horribly distressed. It doesn’t take a skilled conversationalist to decipher the first intake of breath before a single word is spoken; cheer, shock, thrills, anger – they and many more moods besides can be deconstructed in that split second. I’ve often heard parents say that when their kid reaches a few weeks or months old that they can tell by the ‘type’ of cry it emits that it wants x or y. Maybe this is a similar type of thing.

A’s gasp was one of shock and panic. Jesus Christ, I thought within the nanosecond left to me. Not again. We were burgled last only back in June, for fuck’s sake!

“They’ve taken the TV [42 fucking inches! In a heavily-populated terraced street!], the X-Box, the PS3, the iPad…” he was gasping. “They’ve smashed the door between the kitchen and the living room in…”

“I’m coming now,” I said. I hung up and called a taxi.

I could go into my usual level of detail about this, but it’s late and I’m tired. So…

  • The cops had been when I got home, but had apparently spotted some potential culprits, so legged it after them before talking to us and examining the house.
  • Without touching anything, I managed to piece together what had happened. The burglars – or, rather, a burglar – had crawled through the tiny window we keep open for the cats; I know this because it was completely fucked. Then he (and I use the male pronoun for a reason, which I’ll detail) saw the keys hanging up, opened the back door, and let his companion in.
  • They tried, I assume, to simply open the living room door – but, as we have done since the last burglary, we had locked it before leaving the house. They smashed the poor thing in with the Dyson, which was sitting in a corner of the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, they broke that too.
  • Entering the living room would have set the alarm off, and given all that they took and the bloody mess that they’d made, it was obvious that they knew the layout of the place. They couldn’t have got away with all that they did with the alarm (which itself calls the police) curbing their time had it been any other way.
  • They shoved the smaller items, which now seemed to include my old laptop, in bags, exited through the now-open back door, and onward through the gate at the back to the entry (which they’d also used the keys to unlock).
  • They hadn’t gone upstairs. Thank fuck I’d taken my current laptop up to the office; it was safe there. Curiously, they also hadn’t taken my Kindle. It was behind the door they’d smashed in, so perhaps they didn’t see it, or perhaps they didn’t identify it as a piece of expensive electronics because it was in its case, mimicking (to a point) a normal book.
  • Before we’d left, I’d deliberately moved the Kindle and A’s iPad out of view of the window. I neurotically checked the back door was locked about seven times, as I almost always do since the last break-in. Fat lot of good my caution did us.
  • The peelers returned. We were advised that they had taken two blokes into custody (hence my use of the male pronoun in reference to these criminals), and as I detailed my theory of their entrance to the female officer, her male colleague went to look around the back entry for further clues.
  • ….
  • …..
  • I am writing this post on A’s stolen iPad.
  • …..
  • ….
  • The policeman found everything out the back!
  • It seems that when the wankers were spotted, they unceremoniously dumped everything – or perhaps not quite everything? – and ran like fuck. But they were too late ūüôā
  • The police were here for quite a while. In short, they took statements, got the forensic people in and liaised back and forth with their station colleagues. The girl from forensics was extremely thorough – much more so than any of her colleagues we’ve previously met (bearing in mind that this is the fucking third time we’ve been burgled). Although she didn’t say much, it did appear that she had got some evidence from various things.
  • The male peeler had been around the entries of the surrounding area, and came across a small but slick, and quite evidently new, flat screen TV – in a bin. He reasonably enough supposed that it would be unlikely to have been chucked out by its owners, and thus brought it round here briefly for the forensics woman to dust. He and his colleague also revealed that other burglaries had been reported in the area that day.
  • As the cops were rounding things off, the bloke said, “just to check, you didn’t happen to have any wallets here, did you?” We responded in the negative. He nodded, but added, “any foreign currency, no?” It then occurred to me that yes – we did have a wallet in the house after all. We go to down to the Republic every so often, and there’s always leftover Euros. A has kept them in a wallet in the kitchen for months. I relayed this information to the cop as I went into the kitchen to see if it was there. It was not. The cop asked how much was in it. “At least ‚ā¨50, plus coins,” I told him. “There was a ‚ā¨50 note in it; I’m not sure if there were additional ones, but there was definitely a fifty.”
  • I watched with interest as the police exchanged satisfied glances. The wallet with the Euros had been found on the person of one of the personnel that their colleagues had in custody. A couldn’t contain his delight at this wonderful revelation; he jumped up and down screaming, “YES!!!” with the peelers standing there watching. In later conversation, the man said to me that he’s always thrilled in cases like this – both for the victims of the crime, and for officers themselves. “It’s always really nice when we manage to get a conviction,” he smiled. Indeed it must be. They don’t get very many of them for offences like this.
  • After they’d left, I ran down the street to a lovely lady, the only one in the whole area we’ve ever really spoken to, who’d offered us tea when she first realised what had happened. I wanted to let her know what had transpired, and also to apologise if we’d appeared ignorant in refusing said tea. That was weird, because I have never been in a neighbour’s house since I moved in with A, and have only ever exchanged pleasantries and cat-related anecdotes with this woman before. But I appreciated her kindness, and enjoyed the tea and cake that she was decent enough to serve me.
  • I came back and joined A in the clean-up operation. There was glass everywhere. There were strewn bags, clothes and other assorted pieces of fuck also everywhere.
  • Thankfully, the cats were both safe. Srto Gato was here when A got back, and sat down on the sofa, right in the middle of the carnage, and went to sleep. Mr Cat was, however, nowhere to be seen, and we both worried that, twisted as these fucks clearly are, they’d hurt him. H
    e turned up about about an hour after I got home, which was a relief, though he did seem unsettled all evening. Whether he merely sensed our moods, or whether he’d borne witness to some frightening events, we are of course unable to tell.
  • Another set of cops turned up after 10pm, when things had got vaguely back to normal. They had brought the wallet, the ‚ā¨50s and the various Euro coins in separate evidence bags for us to identify as ours. Needless to say, we confirmed that they indeed were. The bloke said as he was leaving that he had “no doubt” that the case would come to court, though he added drolly, “and then they’ll get their 25p fine and get back to their games.” He stressed, assuming as he erroneously did that we completely lacked any knowledge of legal infrastructure, that things were out of their hands then. People can be imprisoned in Norn Iron for burglary, but it’s rare. Even when it happens, custodial sentences tend to be pretty low.
  • The worst thing in the aftermath of all this was that the house wasn’t secure; a bollocksed window and a cunted internal door require supervision. The upshot of that is that I’ve had to stay here when A’s been at work. I don’t mind that, but it does inhibit our ability to live our normal lives. Determined to buy fags before Gideon’s shite budget whacked the price of the vile things up by 37p per packet, I ran out at lunchtime today. In the half hour or so that I was gone – I dropped into a few food-ish places as well – I was panicking, panicking, panicking that the little cunts were out on bail (as they almost certainly are by now) and would break-in again as revenge for our part in their apprehension.
  • On Monday, A rang an “emergency” glass fitter and then The Everythinger (to whom I alluded millaria above). The glass people came out later that day, removed the window from its frame and stuck a temporary board up in its stead. They said they’d be back on Tuesday to fix the window itself. They weren’t. They weren’t today either. They eventually contacted A to tell him that it’ll be at least tomorrow, as they’re waiting on hinges. What double fucking glazing company runs out of hinges?! “Emergency” my arse. At least The Everythinger, who was horrified to hear we’d been burgled only months after he was here the last time for the same reason, is coming tomorrow (later today, whatever it is).
  • Hilarious incidental. The peelers speculated that the theiving scum were on a drunken bender as they went about the area pilfering what they could. As such, they nicked beer from our kitchen. In fact, the one bottle that was open seemed to have been drunk out of, thus meaning potential evidence. Anyway, the burglars were clearly pissed off, as evidenced by their smashing of a few of the bottles and dumping of other ones. This, we’re all pretty sure, is because they had they discovered that they contained Becks Non-Alcoholic beers ūüėÄ Hahaha!

So, if it isn’t death, cancer scares, missing cats, depression, NHS cuntery (and the destruction of that already flawed system), a potentially impending financial desert (and the macro implications of that too), or other assorted nasties, it’s fucking burglary. Thanks, 2012. You’ve brought me the bleakest start to a new year that I can recall.

Yet, comparitively speaking, I’m OK, and thus must sound a note of optimism. Well, not optimism as such, but perhaps a little faith. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the Police Service of Northern Ireland on Sunday, and I was very touched that the lady from down the street had offered the basic but important kindness that she did. The hard work of the cops and the generosity of this sweet stranger reminded me that sometimes when you see the worst of humanity, you also see the best too.

Thank you to Mental Healthy, their judges, nominators and sponsors for their very kind short-listing of this blog for the 2011 Mental Health Heroes awards (in the ‘Creative – Writer’ category). It’s a big honour to be featured alongside such people as the wonderful Kayla Kavanagh, her partner and carer Nigel, and the lovely Fiona Art, so thank you again ūüôā

Anyone want to volunteer for TWIM or TNIM? You know you want to. Email me.

I can’t be arsed to proof-read this right now, sorry. It always mortifies me that my narratives could be error-laden, but I’m too tired to care as much as I should.

RIP Troy Davis

Troy DavisGenerally, it is not my wont to go about airing my views on the socio-legal policies of other nations, but the execution of Troy Davis has left me so saddened and angry that a failure to raise comment on it seemed wholly inappropriate. As I went to bed last night, I hoped against hope that when I awoke today, Mr Davis would still be alive. Instead, the last minute Supreme Court consideration of his case ended up being little more than a cruel stringing-along of a man who must have already felt like he’d been put through months of psychological torture. Mr Davis was pronounced dead at 11.08pm, Jackson time (4.08am here in Ireland and the UK).

Mark MacPhailNow let me get one thing clear. Yes, Mr Davis – if his claims of innocence were true – did suffer horribly unjustly during his years on death row. However, the friends and family of his alleged victim, Mark MacPhail, also experienced what I can only imagine to be horrific shock, grief and enduring, piercing grief since Mr MacPhail was tragically and disgustingly murdered. In all the commentary that has been doing the rounds on Mr Davis in the last few days, I’ve seen the MacPhail family mentioned really rather infrequently. I feel rather uncomfortable with such¬†omissions. We must not forget their loss, and the changed lives they’ve had to lead thanks to that. I still think that victims are often the forgotten, yet most important, denominator in modern criminal justice, which is a frankly scandalous state of affairs. A young man man lost his life here; a woman lost her son, another her husband, two (then very small) children their father. Do not forget Mark MacPhail. He was an innocent in all this.

The thing is, Troy Davis may well also¬†have been an innocent. I’m not going to pretend to know his background here, but based on the reports I read in the lead-up to the execution, it’s probably safe to say that he wasn’t an absolute angel. His Wikipedia article¬†(which seems well-sourced)¬†states that some people knew him as “Rough as Hell” and that he had problems with attendance at both school and work. On the other hand, some people have described him as “likeable” and as a brother-like figure to children in his neighbourhood. One minor arms offence is listed before the night of Mr McPhail’s murder, suggesting that Mr Davis wasn’t, perhaps, always on the right side of the law. Indeed, so-called evidence in his conviction of the MacPhail killing claims to link ballistics in that case with another shooting attributed to Davis that same night (a dubious claim explored more below).

So was Troy Davis an exemplary citizen? Probably not. But so what? His background, good, bad or both, is not where the burden of proof lies. The burden of proof lies with prosecutors Рand they are required to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the evidence they produce against the defendant shows him or her to be the assailant in the crime being tried.

This was not done in the case of Troy Davis, and that is why his execution was such utter folly, worthy of nothing but condemnation.

I’m supposing most people who read this blog already know the circumstances surrounding this case, but lest that not be the case, here are a few points of information (garnered from this succinct but revealing piece in The Grauniad).

  • Seven out of nine witnesses at Davis’ trial have modified some or all of their evidence in the years since.
  • At least a number of these witnesses were unable to read, so therefore had no idea what kind of witness statements they were signing.
  • One of the jurors at Davis’ 1991 trial, Brenda Forrest, stated at the time that he was “definitely guilty”. However, upon learning of the seven witnesses changing their evidence, she has declared that were she trying Davis now, she would have easily found him “not guilty”. She’s not the only juror in the case to have come out in defence of Mr Davis.
  • Allegations of police coercion against witnesses have been made.
  • There was no forensic nor DNA evidence linking Mr Davis to the crime,¬†and the weapon that murdered Mr MacPhail was never found. There are claims that ballistics reports suggest the gun that killed him was linked with an earlier incident allegedly involving Davis – presumably the bullets and residue in each case were identical – but without definite eye-witness accounts of Davis firing this weapon, and especially given that it has never been found, this apparent ‘proof’ of his involvement seems spurious at best.
  • One witness in the case – one of the two that did not change his testimony against Davis – admitted to owning a gun of the same model that was used in the shooting. No big deal in and of itself, you might think – owning guns is a fairly common practice in the USA – however, the man in question has been implicated by nine separate people as a more likely perpetrator in the crime for which Davis was convicted. It is therefore speculated, especially since he was the person that first implicated Davis in the MacPhail killing, that he had Davis ‘set up’ in order to secure his own immunity from prosecution. Indeed, one witness claims to have heard this man confess to the crime.

Although some of these points are circumstantial, the point about the lack of forensic/DNA material in itself¬†speaks volumes. I cannot imagine a trial in the UK without any¬†meaningful physical evidence even coming to court these days, never mind resulting in a conviction – and any that did would, unless new and more definitive evidence for the prosecution arose, likely be overturned on appeal, unlike in Mr Davis’ multitude of cases.

Furthermore, on this side of the pond (and, to be fair, in certain areas across the pond too) there’s a fall-back: although you’d be sentenced to life imprisonment (up to 25 years, depending on the severity and, sadly,¬†notoriety¬†of the case), which isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs, at least you’d be alive. Some argue that they’d rather die than spend their life in a prison cell, and personally I’d be one of them – but, the fact is, incarceration at least allows you to appeal your case. Granted, Troy Davis was on death row for 20 years before his final execution (though he had three dates previous to this, one of which was stayed only 90 minutes or so before its scheduled time) – but his sentence still resulted in the ultimate finality, and although people will do it on his behalf, he¬†can never again proclaim his innocence nor fight to prove it.

I’ve always been against the death penalty for logistical reasons, though in terms of the theory behind it, I used to be much more ambivalent. I remember once frequenting a forum and finding some of the commentary against it to be witheringly trite. “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind,” somebody whined. Who was it originally said that? Ghandi or some such? I’d have expected better from him. An eye is only taken if an eye has been already taken. I, for example, have not taken an eye. You most likely haven’t either. Therefore we face no commupence, so how will we¬†– and ergo the whole world – end up blind?

But blithe as the sentiment is, I’ve come to regard the death penalty as a pretty vile method of punishment. As I said, I’ve always opposed it for¬†logistical¬†reasons – those being simply that it is a very, very rare case where it can be¬†100%, definitively¬†proven that the defendant(s) is (are) guilty. 95%, 99%, 99.9% maybe – but to take away someone’s very life, you have to be certain. Troy Davis’ guilt was one of the most far-from-certain cases I’ve heard of in many, many years.

Two further reasons have brought me to oppose capital punishment. One, in some cases (as noted briefly above) a guilty person would rather die than rot in prison for the rest of his or her natural life. If someone believes so strongly in retribution, why give the perpetrator what they want? More importantly, however, is point two – if the accused really is guilty of killing, what kind of example does the state set when it then kills them? Is that not showing governmental agencies to be falling exactly to their charge’s murderous levels?

Anyway, there are widespread statistics [PDF] demonstrating no causal link between a reduction in crime and the death penalty (in order words, there is no real evidence that it functions as a deterrent). If anything, US states that still use capital punishment have a similar, and even sometimes higher, rate of violent crime. So what the bloody hell does it actually achieve?!

Of further concern is the high rate of ethnic minorities incarcerated on death row. To assume that non-white individuals are inherently more violent or criminal than other ethnicities is repugnantly simple racism. Although I believe that choosing to commit a crime is a personal choice, with which come personal responsibility, if it is really¬†true that racial minorities commit serious crimes more often than whites – a claim that I find extremely dubious at best – then surely we ought to look at the social context in which these crimes occur. Prevention is better than cure, after all. If this is true (and, I’d again re-iterate, I don’t think that it is), is it really¬†about race, or is it more likely to be about deprivation, a lack of unenforced social cohesion and the experience of abject poverty than many non-whites experience in their lives?

Proponents of the death penalty may argue that even if it does not include elements of deterrence (they may try to dispute the statistical evidence for that too), then at least it will bring the friends and family of the accused’s victim(s) some closure. As The Daily Fail (amongst others), in a surprisingly balanced (if too celebrity-laden)¬†article¬†notes, the family of Mark MacPhail feel that justice has been done in executing Troy Davis.

Again, though, there is reasonable doubt¬†as to whether or not Davis was guilty. Even if Mr McPhail’s family truly believe that Davis was the perpetrator of this horrid murder, justice cannot really be served if the wrong person has been executed – beliefs of guilt, even with the best intentions and most understandable motives, cannot count. When it comes to the criminal law, only evidence¬†counts. And that was very thin on the ground in this case. As Davis’ sister put it, “When justice is found for Troy, there will be justice for Officer MacPhail.”

Therein lies the ultimate point. I don’t know if Troy Davis murdered Mark MacPhail or not. I wasn’t there. Only the perpetrator, whoever he was, knows/knew for certain. But executing a potentially innocent man is not ‘justice’, and the crux of this argument is that proof of Mr Davis’ guilt was very, very scant. Ending someone’s life on the basis of “well, yeah, maybe he did it” – and I can’t find much evidence to suggest that it was anything else – is both ethically and legally abhorrent.

As one excellent tweet on the matter commented, “The execution of a guilty man does not make me safe. The…execution of an innocent man [as based on the available evidence]¬†makes me fear for my safety.”

RIP Mark McPhail and Troy Davis. Your friends and family are in my thoughts.

Standard disclaimer: don’t know the MacPhails, don’t know the Davises, not a judge, not a social commentator, not a lawyer, not even an American, all opinions my own, may be misinformed, have tried to give accurate information but do not accept responsibility for any errors I may unintentionally have published, believe in free speech but don’t you dare flame me, just a dumb Irish broad with too much to say so feel free to ignore everything I have ever and will ever say. Cheers.

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Rant: London Riots

Slightly off-topic, since this is a mental health blog, but sod it. This situation cannot be ignored by me. I am fucking disgusted beyond description.

As if the riots themselves were not bad enough, I am beyond appalled to see some people defending the actions of those responsible. Sorry, but WHAT?!

I can not express how offensive such sentiments are to me. As someone who has lived through riots, through bombings, shootings and other forms of “civil unrest”, I cannot fathom how anyone can think the fear, danger and destruction that is evoked in these circumstances is justified in any way. Do you know what it’s like to live with this every fucking night? How do you think ordinary, non-rioting people in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham and Liverpool must’ve felt…and must still¬†feel? Do you care? If you don’t, then your opinion is worthless to begin with, and you should go and fuck yourselves, you selfish, sadistic fucking dickheads. If you do, how you can reconcile that sense of giving a shit about the rest of the human race with supporting those involved in this scandal is a mystery to me.

Let me get a few things clear. The Metropolitan Police certainly have a lot of questions to answer, and I utterly condemn the killing of Mark Duggan; regardless of the man’s background, killing an unarmed man is a reprehensible act for any state agency (or anyone else for that matter)¬†to engage in. Of course¬†you should have the right to protest if your police service is behaving in a brutal fashion. I support the point that the original¬†protesters¬†in Tottenham were trying to make.

Furthermore, the government is indubitably guilty of marginalising a large number of societal groups, as were many governments before them. I loathe the present administration, as previous posts on this blog will testify, and I think every single one of them should be ashamed of themselves for the way they have consistently allowed an arguable form of oppression of a number of different demographic groups within this country. Again, of course protests are justified when there is such a sense of disenfranchisement.

Protests are not riots, however. Protests are not looting and theft. Protests are not arson. Protests are not inhibiting the work of fire-fighters and the ambulance service. Protests are not attacking people, throwing firebombs at people, mugging people. All of those things? They’re crime. They’re violence.

And just while we’re at it: whilst politics in the United Kingdom is a pathetic joke that will ruin lives, at least we have the right to peacefully protest, unlike quite a few I could name. These knobs have taken that right, and twisted the living shit out of it.

You know, much as I would continue to condemn it and find it utterly repugnant, if people stuck to attacking governmental and police premises, at least I could begin to understand¬†their horrendous actions. Let me repeat, though, that that would still be reprehensible. I remember here, during the Troubles, in many instances the Provisional IRA spread their brand of terrorism by targeting¬†the (overwhelmingly Protestant) police and British government buildings/employees, whereas the various loyalist terrorists often sought out Catholic civilians. Neither kind of actions are¬†forgiveable – no terrorism is – because whether you’re an agent of the state or an ordinary person, you’re still someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, friend, colleague, whatever. So this would still be beyond preposterous, let me assure you – but at least there would be a very tenuous and weak attempt at an excuse.

As things stand, that doesn’t apply at all. Local businesses are being burnt to the ground – not just even big economic targets, but small, family traders doing their best just to survive. How would these thuggy little twats feel if poor Maurice Reeves was their¬†grandfather? Don’t they care anything for the historical context of the shop he ran? Or about the fact that they’ve just effectively ruined his family’s livelihood? (Apparently not – silly questions, Pan). Don’t they realise that by burning London to the ground, by opportunistically and cravenly stealing from shops despite the alleged nobility of their cause, they are going to fuck the already fucked economy further? Don’t they realise that this will affect them? If they feel economically disenfranchised now, they’re going to feel a hell of a lot worse if they destroy half of the working premises of the world’s fucking capital. The FTSE hasn’t exactly been stable since this whole fuckstainism kicked off.

Even more disturbing again is the fact that people are being made homeless because of the riots. One woman had to risk her life by jumping from a burning building that would otherwise certainly¬†have ended it.¬†Jesus Christ, people, wake up! If they really care so much about social inclusion, how can it be acceptable to burn normal, civilian people out of their houses? It doesn’t compute in my head as to how that’s anything other than diametrically opposed to what the rioters claim to stand for.

Northern Ireland proves that political violence doesn’t work. When the Troubles ended, it was not because either side had achieved their aims; it was because the community at large had had enough of living in a constant state of superveillance and stoic but omnipresent terror, and we wanted representatives from each ‘side’ to work together for a brighter future for this country – for¬†peace (a¬†grass-roots desire has been largely successful, save for some thankfully isolated incidents). I wonder, if any of the people rioting in England in the last few days were actually alive during the Troubles, did they look upon Northern Ireland as a shithole in those days? Most people external to the province did. And yet that’s what they’re doing to their own towns and areas right now. I suppose they haven’t considered how pathetic they look on the international stage, but whether they care or not, the reality is that international relations is highly important, perhaps even¬†crucial, in modern times, and ergo fucking up the PR of the country isn’t the most intelligent idea in the history of time.

(By the way you might, at this point, very well point out to me that both the current First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland both have ((respectively)) loyalist-related and republican-related convictions to their names ((the former for a loyalist ‘invasion’ of a town over the Eire/NI border, the latter for IRA arms charges)). Yeah. You’re right. But consider this: Peter Robinson’s charge was in the mid-1980s, Martin McGuinness’s in the early ’70s. That was a¬†minimum¬†of 25 years ago. It was only when they renounced violence¬†that they got into respected ((insofar as it can be!)), serious politics).

Please. Stop this madness. People get it – you’re pissed off, and arguably with justification. But this is not¬†the way to make your point, and to be absolutely frank, I’m not convinced that everyone involved in this even has a point (otherwise why mug people and commit acts of theft?). You are ruining beautiful, historical, cultural cities and boroughs. You are ruining ordinary people’s lives. You are ruining¬†your very own communities – how nice will it be for you to live in a burnt-out shell for the next few years, particularly if you already¬†feel that you live in a ghetto?

Someone is going to die if this continues.¬†People started protesting, in part, for the very reason¬†that someone was needlessly killed. Now they’re responding by endangering other lives – and fighting (alleged) brutality with brutality is idiotic, spectacularly counter-intuitive and, yeah, to echo pretty much everyone else – simply bloody criminal.

Stop it, you stupid, selfish philistines.

EDIT: I’ve just heard someone else has¬†died. I don’t know who is responsible, but whatever the case, it shouldn’t have to be this way.

EDIT II: Just heard two teenage girls interviewed on the news. “Don’t you mind that you’re ruining the lives of people in your own communities?” the reporter asked. “No,” this silly little cow replied, “they’re only rich people. They need to see that we can do what we want.”

No, you fucking can’t¬†do what you want. With rights come fucking responsibilities. You are childish and disgusting, regardless of your socio-economic class. Fuck.

Personal Points

  • Worried about Daniel and CVM, both residents of London. I’ve tried to contact them but haven’t heard anything back yet. If either of you are reading this, please fucking contact me!
  • Worried also about Seaneen, Titflasher, Magic Plum, UselessCPN and all my other lovely Twitter/blogging friends, though know from the social networks that they’re safe at present.
  • I’m thinking of all the people in the affected cities and wishing them peace and safety.
  • I hope those organising and participating in these riots are brought to justice. Violence, no matter what ideology it’s in the name of, is completely unreasonable.
  • Social media may have been used to mobilise a lot of this shittery, but it’s also being used for good causes in response to it.
  • I lay awake¬†last night in growing unease until about 5am, listening to distant sirens and constantly-circling overhead helicopters, keeping up-to-date with news of the riots as I did. I awoke after 7 to hear that some minor trouble had kicked off here in NI, though I’ll not be surprised if it gets worse. The hoods on both sides of the divide here are always looking for an excuse.
  • Disclaimer: alleged, own opinion, not reflective of anyone else’s, not a lawyer, not a social commentator, attempted to be balanced because I see the reasons for this but not the actions involved, etc etc. See last night’s look at Anders Breivik and, indeed, the entertainingly-titled ‘Disclaimer‘ page for more information if you really care.

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Anders Breivik: Mad or Bad?

First rant of the week.

I’ve just watched a speculative documentary on the repugnant Anders Breivik, the man responsible for the horrific attacks on Oslo and Ut√łya Island last month. Before continuing, for the little it’s worth, I’d like to extend my sympathy and solidarity to anyone from Norway reading this. Living in Northern Ireland, I have not been a stranger to terrorism. It is a truly despicable thing, that someone could think politics (or more specifically, in the Norwegian case, reactionary extremist racism) could be worthy of ending even one – never mind multiple – human lives. One of the survivors of the shooting attack on the island, who was attending a summer camp on what the documentary described as “left-wing” politics, stated at the end of the programme that he was sure his ideals rather than Breivik’s would, in the end, be the political victors. It is my fervent hope and belief that this will indeed be the case.

I commend the survivors in the programme for their bravery and determination in the face of such horrible, senseless adversity; I hope that in time all of the survivors can heal from both their physical and psychological injuries; and I send sincere sympathies to the loved ones of those that died.

In the sense of the survivor and eye-witness accounts, the documentary was interesting, informative and very powerful and tragic. I am not the nicest person on this Earth, let’s face it, but even I will never, ever understand how someone can be filled with so much loathing for other cultures and different demographic groups that doing something like this would ever cross their minds.

And herein comes the rant. Inexplicably renowned criminologist David Wilson, a supercilious little man that I’ve come across dozens of times both in an academic context and in my more amateur investigations into criminality, was employed by the film-makers as an ‘expert’ witness on Breivik’s psychology. Can you guess where we’re going with this, readers?

According to Wilson (who, to the best of my knowledge, has no more insider knowledge of Breivik than you or I do), Breivik has a “classic cluster B personality disorder”; Wilson exemplifies this point by highlighting the sensationalism of the attacks, and of Breivik’s apparent at-easeness, even his thrills, with the media frenzy after his arrest. Wilson also contends that Breivik is a psychological splitter (ie. a black and white thinker), presuambly in reference to his “MUSLIMS BAD! LEFT WING BAD! KNIGHTS TEMPLAR GOOD!” kind of thinking. Also, he’s a classic narcissist – look at the “manifesto” and the ridiculous pictures the man posted of himself online the day before he embarked on his awful plan.

I can’t argue with any of that, but neither can I see how it took Wilson years of training and work experience to come to these frankly blindingly obvious conclusions. (Also, he contradicts himself on the histrionic thesis at a couple of points by then pointing out how much of a loner and how reclusive Breivik generally was before this all took place, though to be fair that doesn’t exactly mitigate the gruesome exhibitionism the man demonstrated when he enacted his plans). Given that Wilson fails to explain his hypothesis further (or at least that any further explanation was not shown in the programme), I also don’t get how exhibiting a few (admittedly extreme) traits of cluster B pathology makes the man a “classic” example of same. Yeah, he’s probably a narcissist – but being narcissistic does not necessarily mean having narcissistic personality disorder.

Breivik is certainly a classic example of a cunt, but that is far from always the same thing as being someone with a personality disorder. Look. Maybe he has a one, and maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he has some other form of mental illness (the whole Knights Templar thing sounds vaguely fantastical to me), and maybe he doesn’t. What I object to is the programme’s, and Wilson’s in particular, testimony to these possibilities without any qualification.

OK, so they shouldn’t have to point out that just because one exceptionally extreme (possible) example behaves in this heinous way that the overwhelming majority of people with allegedly similar disorders do not – but let’s be honest here; the public love the morbid sensationalism of reporting on supposed madness, and that – and personality disorders in particular, stigmatised as they often are – is (are) often the perfect scapegoat(s) for outrageous behaviour that decent people have difficulty understanding.

I think, as an unfortunate consequence of things like this, that each examination in the media of a criminal that may or does have a mental health problem should carry a clear disclaimer with it: that people with mental illness are generally no more violent than the general population, and are in fact much more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators of it (if memory serves me, schizophrenics in the community are about seven times more likely to be affected by violent offending than other members of the populace, but I could have the specifics of that wrong). It shouldn’t have to be that way, that we need to qualify every generality, but I’m a pragmatic person. I’d rather that than have everyone outside the mental health community demonising those within it, because the consequences of the latter are potentially devastating.

Anyhow, as far as I can see Breivik was mostly sane anyhow. Null made a very good point on TWIM the other day – no one with a serious and active mental health problem could honestly have spent so much time* meticulously researching and planning a major ‘event’ in the fashion that he apparently did (except, arguably, a sociopath, the more organised version of the psychopath ((depending on which textbook you read))). We just don’t have the concentration, the calculated calmness and, more practically, in all probability we don’t have the economic and physical resources to engage in anything so necessarily complex. That sounds like a cold statement, maybe, but the point is that mentally ill people who kill because of (as opposed to in spite of) their illness tend to do it on impulse (because of a false sense of feeling persecuted or threatened, perhaps) or because they genuinely have no rational conception of what they’re doing (eg. because hallucinations compel them towards the crime).

* Null’s comment suggests that Breivik was planning the operation for nine years, though the documentary claimed it was three. I’ve heard different reports from other sources too, so don’t know what to believe. Either way, it’s a long time and was, by all accounts, a complicated process.

Further, in September 2001, did we start hearing speculation on whether Marwan al-Shehhi, Mohamed Atta, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Ahmed al-Haznawi et al, and – presumably – Osama bin Laden himself, had cluster B personality disorders? Did we spend any significant amount of time discussing whether they had folie √† x? No? Didn’t we just accept that they were representing a particularly extreme and reactionary version of Islam (which, I would add, in no way represents the vast majority of people that belong to that faith)?

It’s not an entirely fair comparison, granted, because as far as we know Breivik worked alone – whether or not the two supportive ‘cells’ to which he referred were somehow involved in the attacks is at present unknown, but either way the bomb and the shootings specifically were carried out by him alone. The 11th September attacks were organised by a huge, world-wide cult of extremists.

But therein lies the point. Breivik, by his own delighted admission, is a racist that loathes Islam and wants to wage a war to drive Muslims from (Western) Europe. He claims to be a “cultural Christian”, which I think in effect means that the man is not particularly religious, but supports whatever continuing influence Christianity has on an increasingly secular and culturally inclusive continent. But although Breivik is probably not a religious extremist, he is certainly a political one.

To further exemplify, when the Troubles here were ongoing, we didn’t try to examine whether or not Johnny Adair or Thomas Murphy were personality disordered. Do we debate the state of Nick Griffin’s mental health? Was that the first thing on people’s mind when London was attacked in July 2005? Indeed, is it the lead speculative headline as regards the current ongoing rioting in London?

No. Because we used to be able to, and still can on occasion, accept that some people are just twisted fucking dickheads. People have always committed unspeakable acts in the name of religion, politics or other fucked-up ideologies. Anders Breivik is one such example. He may be mad after a fashion, but he knew what he was doing. So, ultimately, he was just fucking bad. Very, very bad.

RIP to all those that were killed as a result of the attacks on Norway on 22 July 2011.

Disclaimer: author of the above is not a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, not a criminologist, not a political scientist, not a sociologist, doesn’t know Anders Breivik, doesn’t know David Wilson, doesn’t know anyone from the Discovery Channel, could be wrong on all counts, could be wrong on everything she’s ever written, it’s all merely alleged, she’s only speculating just like the programme was, is not a member of any organisation, believes in free speech. Author of the above is a provincial nobody who apparently can’t stop her vociferous gob (fingers) when presented with a topical story and a laptop. Author means no harm in voicing opinions, welcomes sensible and reasoned debate, wishes most people well, though doesn’t wish Anders Breivik well.

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*Another* BBC Mental Illness Fail

Last year, the Beeb produced an appalling episode of its long-running Panorama show on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, strongly inferring that the only people who would genuinely be afflicted with the disorder were soldiers traumatised by battle.  As the title of the documentary РThe Trauma Industry Рsuggested, the central tenet of the program was that any civilian presenting with PTSD was doing so to claim compensation, benefits or whatever other nasty the man that presented it, Allan Little, thought was malingering-esque.

I was one of, as far as I know, hundreds that wrote to complain.¬† In fairness, I got a fairly reasonable response from the Deputy Editor who afforded me the opportunity to speak directly to him about my concerns if I thought it would be of use.¬† I didn’t, so I didn’t phone him, but I did think that perhaps the furore about the program may have made the BBC think twice before putting out such biased and unprofessional tripe again.

How wrong I was.

Last night, BBC2 screened a documentary entitled, Why Did You Kill My Dad?, presented by filmmaker Julian Hendy.  In 2007 his father Phillip was brutally murdered by an individual with mental health trouble.

The tragedy saw Mr Hendy set out to “investigate” the true rate of violent crime committed by the mentally ill, in particular those with psychotic illness, in the UK.

Cue mournful, vaguely sinister music, accompanying pictures of crazed looking nutters or images of catatonic freaks showing off their thousand-yard stares.

TEH MENTALS HAZ EV1L IN THEM INNIT

I feel bad criticising Julian Hendy, as I can’t imagine how horrific it must be to lose someone you love in such circumstances.¬† Nevertheless, this was a hideously biased, completely unbalanced program, full of very little more than gross generalisations.

OK, so perhaps it didn’t specifically come out and say, “people suffering from psychosis are more likely to be murderers,” but it might as well have done.¬† Those suffering from mental ill health were depicted as axe-wielding maniacs who have no hope of managing their conditions whatsoever.¬† TEH NHS FAILS COS IT HAZN’T LOCKED ‘EM ALL UP INNIT.

I’m the first to admit that the NHS is bullshit when it comes to mental health.¬† Christ knows, I rant about every day or two on this journal!¬† And maybe in the case of Phillip Hendy’s assailant, the NHS should have realised there was a risk to others.

But that is one case.  Hendy ergo tried to counter that by speaking to other families that have lost people in similar ways, but when you compare this small number of people to the amount of people that have suffered psychosis the percentage risk of a psychosis-violence link is so much beyond negligible that it is in fact almost infinitesimal.

The documentary conveniently failed to acknowledge the fact that community based individuals with schizophrenia, obviously the best known of psychotic illness, are much more likely to be victims of violent crime than they are to be perpetrators (source: any of these dozens of Google results).  Those not based in the community are usually imprisoned in locked bins with draconian rules on release, so their risk to the general public Рif there even is one in the first place Рis clearly quite low.

What complete bollocks. Psychosis simply does not equal violence.¬† For God’s sake, my voices once told me to harm my baby cousin – it doesn’t mean it actually fucking happens in all but the smallest minority of cases.

The film, whether it intended to do so or not, has only succeeded in presenting the mentally ill as dangerous and deranged, despite the fact that it is well known (and highly demonstrable) that psychosis as well as other forms of mental disorders can be well managed with minimum danger to others.  All this documentary has done is to reinforce the false stereotypes and dangerous, unfair stigmas that surround mental ill health in the UK today.

BBC, you fail.  Again.

Article of the Week: Week Four

There were a number of interesting psychiatric / psychological articles upon which I happened this week, but only one really stood out, probably simply because I have a strong interest in the subject matter.  The article comes from Psychiatric Times (PT) and discusses the phenomenon of stalking.

The comprehensive article discusses a range of factors pertaining to stalking, one of the most interesting for me being the statistical profiles of offenders.  I was interested to note that PT cite a high rate of cluster B personality disorders in perpetrators.  Of course, on the surface, one might have expected a high incidence of anti-social personality disorder, but this illness is not singled out, so one has to wonder if diagnoses such as BPD are prevalent also.  Great!  (Not, obviously).

In line with generally accepted statistics, the article suggests a high rate of offenders being known to their victims.  Another interesting discussion is on classifications of stalkers; I should have assumed that such categorising was logical, but nevertheless this information was news to me.

Finally, there is a short discussion on the best way a therapist or psychiatrist can engage with the offender, including a case study.

This is a fairly long piece, and parts of it are quite heavy on statistics, but if you’re interested the area of forensic psychiatry and psychology, it’s a satisfying read.

Stalking: The Veiled Epidemic