Medicine meets law:forensic psychiatry
Undergraduate placements in forensic psychiatry enrich general medical training and help us face our prejudices, say Elisabeth Cottrell and Adrian Grounds
Forensic psychiatry is an unknown specialty to many medical students. And if you are aware of the field, you may not be clear about what it involves. All undergraduate medical courses contain student selected components - projects, placements, and the medical student elective. A placement in forensic psychiatry may be an option for any of these.
Forensic psychiatry became a specialty in its own right only in the 1970s. It is unusual because it embraces both the med ical and legal worlds: knowledge of both is essential for fair and appropriate management of patients. Patients who have personality disorders or mental illnesses and have offended or are thought likely to offend in the future. Such offending does not have to result directly from mental illness. A minor ity of forensic psychiatry patients have neither committed an offence nor are thought likely to offend. The United King dom's health service, rather