Violent thoughts and fantasies in a high secure mentally disordered offender group: an exploratory study

Patel, Gita (2015) Violent thoughts and fantasies in a high secure mentally disordered offender group: an exploratory study. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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There is a well-established association between thinking and doing and so it is no surprise that thinking about violence can be associated with risk of violent behaviour. Violent thoughts are recognised as a treatment target in many offender treatment programmes, yet given the multi-faceted nature of violent cognition and absence of integrating theory of violent offenders’ cognition it can sometimes be difficult to assess and treat the cognition that is associated with violent behaviour.

This research project aims to explore Violent Thoughts and Fantasies (VTF) in a clinical and forensic client group. The thesis begins with a review of violent cognition and related constructs. A systematic review then highlights the role of violent cognition at various stages in the offending process. The main empirical study uses qualitative methodology to explore VTF amongst a sample of mentally disordered offenders detained within a high secure hospital.

The thematic analysis yielded four super-ordinate themes which included ‘part of who I am’, ‘emotional regulation’, ‘aware of the need to be careful’ and ‘thinking to doing, to thinking, to doing’. Violent thoughts and fantasies appeared to be integral to one’s self concept and functioned to sustain the individual in some way, depending on individual need. A range of functions of VTF were identified using functional analysis and these included: emotional regulation, dealing with provocation and using VTF to plan or guide violent offending. Consequently, there continues to be a need to carefully assess and manage these experiences as the link between thinking about violence and acting in a violent way continues to be a likely possibility.

Clinical implications are directed towards a thorough assessment of VTF, with particular emphasis on assessing the underlying function of VTF and supporting offenders to find alternative ways of addressing the need that the fantasy currently fulfils.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Browne, K.
Howells, K.
Keywords: Violent; Fantasy; Mental disorder; Offenders
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 29445
Depositing User: Patel, Gita
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2015 12:45
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 17:50

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