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Forensic psychiatry

German: Forensische Psychiatrie

1 Definition

Forensic psychiatry is a branch of psychiatry which deals with the assessment and therapy of mentally ill criminals or patients who committed criminal offenses under the influence of drugs.

2 Functions

The function of forensic psychiatry is assessing criminal responsibility of offenders as well as their placement in a psychiatric hospital. This function often involves forensic psychiatrists as expert witnesses in a court hearing. The duration of hospitalization is dependent on the patient's willingness for therapy, the treating psychiatrist's assessment, and the judge's decision.

3 Legal situation

3.1 Legal situation in Germany (articles of the German criminal code)

  • § 126a - Pretrial detention: If a mentally ill or addicted person commits a crime, they have to remain in a forensic psychiatric hospital until the trial date.
  • § 63 - If a patient has committed a criminal offense because of their mental illness they have to be placed in a psychiatric hospital. Forensic psychotherapy is compulsive.
  • § 64 - This article covers individuals who have committed an offense under the influence of drugs while being in forensic psychotherapy. Patients who are admitted according to § 64 can demand the termination of their therapy and opt for imprisonment instead. However, this breaks with the idea of "Treatment instead of punishment".
  • § 66 - Preventive detention. In case of serious offenses or multiple offenses preventive detention can be mandated during trial. Preventive detention cannot be mandated afterwards but only during the main trial. This was decided by the Constitutional Court after several affected individuals had sued.

4 Common pathologies

4.1 Schizophrenia

4.2 Personality disorders

4.3 Addiction

5 Therapy

6 Daily routine in forensic psychiatry

The main objective in high-security wings is safety. Every employee wears a personal emergency call device which can trigger an alarm that immediately informs security services and nurses of the neighboring wards about a critical situation. Wards, recreational areas and rooms of extraordinarily dangerous individuals are monitored by video cameras. Nurses try to build trust and motivate patients to continue therapy. Ensuring that patients take their (psychotropic) medication is another duty of nurses on a forensic psychiatric ward.

7 Duration of hospitalization

The duration of hospitalization varies with the specific pathology, usually patients are hospitalized for several years or lifelong.

8 Links

This page was last edited on 18 April 2017, at 08:37.

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