Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening. The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions. Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations. Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room. Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack. Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.
I jumped at the chance review this book, having worked within the settings that she discusses in her book for 18 years. I was prepared to love it, yet at the same time, felt some unease at how she would portray the patients and the prison secure environment. I am glad to say I loved it, it is funny, wise and brutally honest. It doesn’t always make for easy reading, but it does challenge the reader to confront the reality of life for both patients and staff within secure mental health units or the prison setting. It also challenges us to delve into the minds of convicted men and women, because despite what many people think, the reasons people commit crimes are not always straightforward. Punishment and treatment cannot be separated and a better understanding of The Dark Side of the Mind is vital if the revolving cycle of crime and punishment is ever to be resolved. For as she says, square peg prisoners and criminal justice, and for that matter, treatment with a secure setting, rarely end well. They can, I’ve seen it, but that is only ever due to staff, doing their very best in an environment that is misunderstand and ignored by the majority of the public. For this to change, people of all walks of life, need to read books such as this, if we are to have a chance of an intelligent discussion, before both services, suffer further damage in years to come.
The story I found most moving is that of Gary, whose actions on a bus, found him in in Prison, serving a jail sentence with no fixed end date, an act intended to protect the public from further harm. Poorly applied, it caught many offenders in never ending prison sentences, when applied to those it had not been intended to affect. Given recent events in London, and the government reaction to it, we need to ensure that any changes in sentence release dates are properly thought through and Gary’s story is an example of why. We all have some responsibility for our actions, but sometimes, there are reasons for behaviour that we need to understand. So patients/criminals receive the treatment in the right setting, or we risk a never ending cycle of suffering, with politicians placing political point scoring before public safety and appropriate patient care.
This books importance and value is in highlighting the fact that poorly funded systems, ill-informed sentence decisions and a lack of funding for forward thinking assessment and treatment, will continue to have catastrophic effects on patients and staff. You can’t shore up a system with a sticking plaster, when it needs a radical overhall.
Gary’s story is fascinating and it was only Kerry Daynes intelligence and care that gave him any chance. You might think it all sounds dramatic and I suppose it can be, but I can promise you Gary’s story is not an isolated case and there is no point ignoring it, better to open an enquiring mind and read this book.
Now I admit the humour is dark. For some readers this will offend, please don’t let it. Her depiction and style of writing, the humour is one of the best parts of this book, because it reflects life in a setting most will thankfully never have to experience, be grateful for that. Dark humour is a commonly used coping mechanism in all emergency services. When you see things everyday that others would find impossible to cope with, you learn to use humour to preserve your sanity. It has its place though and within this book, it is used wisely and with understanding. I’m not asking you to understand if that is a step to far, I’m asking that you accept the setting.
Kerry Daynes has delivered a book in which humour reflects the often chaotic, mind bending reality of life behind the walls/doors of the units she worked in.
It doesn’t paint a rosy picture of either service and that was not always easy to read, but having worked within it for a large number of years, I promise staff are at breaking point and if readers gain a better understanding of the reality of criminal justice and mental health provision within this, it will have been the best £7.99 you have ever spent.
You can purchase this book from Amazon
About the author
Kerry Daynes is a Consultant and Forensic Psychologist, speaker and media commentator. For over twenty years her average week has involved working with everything from stressed-out parents to serial killers and she is a sought-after court-appointed expert witness. Kerry regularly appears on international television networks and in the media; she was ‘The Profiler’ over three series of Discovery’s top-rated ‘Faking It’ documentaries. Kerry is Patron of the National Centre for Domestic Violence and Talking2Minds. She is an advocate for better conversations about mental distress and alternatives to the culture of psychological ‘disorder’. Kerry lives in Cheshire with two huge dogs and yes, she is a proud natural ginger.
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