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Violence By the Mentally Ill Is Quite Rare
Violence by the mentally ill is quite rare, and it is usually preceded by warning signs of strange behavior or thoughts. When violence is associated with a mental illness, it is often treatable, and the violence then becomes preventable.
Dr. Eccleston has spent much of her forty years of clinical practice working with seriously mentally ill patients in public mental health facilities including state hospitals, community mental health center day-hospital programs and outpatient departments. Her employment in Department of Corrections includes several state prisons as well as at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
About trying to treat those with mental illness who kill or seriously maim others, Dr. Eccleston wrote, “My primary clinical interest was in the treatment of psychotic illnesses, those brain disorders which involve delusions or hallucinations or extreme moods which demonstrate the person has lost contact with reality. Working in a prison setting was really just an inconvenience I had to go through to have access to numerous psychotically disturbed individuals, many of whom I hoped I could help. It was the most gratifying work I have ever done.”
She continued, “People’s lack of awareness of what constitutes a mental illness feeds their fear of it, even when a mental illness develops in a family member or a friend.” In Beyond the Walls Dr. Eccleston discusses many cases but disguises their identities to preserve patient confidentiality, even though the cases involving the criminally insane have been presented in courts of law and are therefore matters of public record.
“In an effort to disguise my patients’ identities, I have chosen to use composites of two or more patients to create each individual discussed. I have also changed factual information about the patients and their cases to further hide their identities.”
Dr. Eccleston has written Beyond the Walls to educate lay people about psychosis so they can move beyond the stigma and seek appropriate treatment. Professionals working with the mentally ill will find valuable information about the many changes in treatment programs over the past 20 years. To get your copy go to www.beyondthewallsbook.com.
About Dr. Joan Eccleston:
Joan Eccleston, M.D., has spent much of her forty years of clinical practice working with seriously mentally ill patients in public mental health facilities including state hospitals, community mental health center day-hospital programs and outpatient departments. Her employment in Department of Corrections facilities includes several state prisons as well as at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane. She has served as a consultant to group homes for both the mentally ill and for the developmentally disabled, and she has testified in court well over three hundred times.
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