Adshead (2011)offers an insightful commentary on this issue. Forensic psychiatric narrative is discussed within the setting of the courtroom and the psychiatric report is likened to a tragic narrative. The index offence is the ‘crisis point in the narrative which fixes the identity of the defendant’ (Adshead 2011,p.365). A discussion by McAdams and Pals outlining the significance of narrative for the construction of personal identity is explored by Adshead (2011), who purports that the construction of offender identity is a key process in the drama of the criminal court. We are reminded that the defendant whose mental illness ‘causes’ his offence is:
a tragic figure, whose mistaken and damaged mind has brought about his own downfall, as well as creating terror and suffering for others. His ‘offender’ identity may then be combined with a ‘patient’ identity i.e one who suffers: the Greek word ‘pathos’ means suffering and is the root of the word, ‘patient’. As an expert in mental disorders and their relationship with violence, the forensic psychiatrist gives voice to this ‘patient’ identity(Adshead 2011, p.365).
However, Adshead points out that it is equally possible that the forensic psychiatric expert’s narrative can cast doubt on this identity:
These experts ‘create’ monsters with their narrative: classic monsters of story who threaten the community. But if the prosecution depict the defendant as a monster who threatens the community, the defence will try and portray him or her as a person who lost their way in life’s dark wood; who, on a quest, made mistakes and metaphorically, lost ‘sight’ of what was happening or the true import of what they did (Adshead, 2011, p.365).
Griffith and Baranoski, cited by Adshead (2011, p.365), argue that the use of concepts such as narrative does not undermine attention to professional ethics in terms of objectivity, honesty and veracity. If both sides are creating stories, there is no significant concern about ethics as long as both sides are afforded the opportunity to recount their tale. The concerning factor is when only one story is told or where the story teller ‘fails to communicate their ‘voice’’.
This struggle for ‘identity definition’ within the courtroom may be viewed as a microcosm of a societal conflict between ‘tellable’ and ‘untellable’ narratives (Burr, 2003, p.145). It could be argued that the Frankenstein type ‘monster’ represented by the ‘Dangerous and Severe Personality Disordered’ man, and the label pertains primarily to men, offers a ‘tellable’, therefore socially acceptable explanation for the ‘untellable’ ‘mental illness narrative’ of men such as Michael Stone. This ‘tellable’ narrative is perhaps the reason for the language utilised by the tabloid press in relation to murder, for example, the editorial comment: ‘This monster must be caught and put away for the rest of his life’ (The Mirror 1997,p.6).
Once the ‘tellable’ narrative has been articulated, often loudly, through media reporting, the tale is told, the identity of the ‘monster’ is established and the individual in question is incarcerated and effectively silenced. There is no redress with regard to the ‘offender identity’ which has now effectively been legally established within the adversarial courtroom. As Albert comments regarding his perception of stigmatisation:
You’ve done something violent and you are now seen as Mr. Violent. Someone is making a judgement and you can only judge people on their actions (Ferrito, Vetere, et al., 2012,p.12).
This perception of male violence is explored in a television documentary entitled ‘Frankenstein: the modern myth’. It is interesting that the voices of those who are incarcerated at Broadmoor may be acceptably ‘heard’ within such a programme, which explores the mythology of the monstrous. Adshead comments during the programme:
I think there’s something about this very childish wish that we can see monstrousness. It’s for real, it’s clear and we’ll know it when we see it and yet… we keep constantly being surprised by it – ‘buthe didn’t seem like that’ – well, what did you think he was going to be like?
It is also noteworthy that the Parole Board Amendment Rules (2009) have removed the right to an oral hearing for prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence. Thus many such men who have participated in the DSPD programme truly do not have a voice.
Perhaps whilst society may not be able to ‘contain’ such a dialogue of cruelty and violence at a macro level, such dialogue may be safely contained within a forensic setting where patients’ voices may be both articulated and listened to. It may well be the role of the forensic psychotherapist to offer an alternative ‘tellable’ and socially acceptable narrative, as in the aforementioned ‘Frankenstein The Modern Myth,’in which Adshead comments:
80% of our people have experienced abuse or neglect, which is about 4 or 5 times the national average…
Hollway (2010)explores the ‘psycho-social subject in evidence-based practice’ (2010, p.9) and demonstrates how unconscious intersubjective dynamics, such as transference and counter-transference, affect the research relationship (2010, p.18). Hollway cites Ogden who presents the subject as dynamically produced in each inter-subjective relationship (2010, p.18). Ogden:
explores the idea of ‘finding yourself becoming a subject whom you have not met, but nonetheless recognise’ by the process of ‘creating a voice with which to speak (think) the words (thoughts) comprising it. The person who is produced in the interview is, in this sense, new (but also recognisable) (2009, p.19).
Hollway (2009, p.19) purports that qualitative research must build upon such evidence. However, research, representing that which is to be voiced, may not wish to uncover society’s darkest fears of us all being potentially ‘dangerous’. This may be the very reason for silencing the voices of those whom society wants to silence.
 Names have been changed to protect identity