Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

1. Violence – The Long and the Short Stories

man staring

Since not everyone is going to attend one of my courses (www.dangerousbehaviour.com) or read my book (www.facingdanger.com) I thought I’d write a series of short posts on violence for general consumption.

When you look into the literature and at the work of clinical and forensic psychologists on violence it is almost exclusively about what I call “The Long, Slow Story.” It is about understanding the profile of violent offenders, identifying the antecedents of violence, assessing the risk of future violent offending and the treatment of violent offenders. These are matters open to rigorous scientific investigation. It is not, however, the whole of the story. The other part is “The Short, Fast Story” and that is where I come in. This involves the violent encounter itself as it happens second by second and the highly dynamic interplay between the various protagonists.

As professionals, violent behaviour is something we want to change and in “The Long, Slow Story” we can draw upon the established therapeutic literature. When addressing “The Short, Fast Story” however, that literature doesn’t help much – ignoring someone who is about to smash a bottle into your face doesn’t work, nor does challenging distorted cognitions! So it is assumed that when push comes to shove we have little influence over the aggressor’s behaviour.

Training, therefore, tends to focus on preventing or minimising the risk of violence to staff, or moves into physical restraint and breakaway techniques. Both are important and laudable and yet between the two an important gap exists – and that gap is that is overwhelmingly psychological.

In my next posting, I will explain why this so …

A final plug … there are still a few places left on the “Difficult, Disturbing and Dangerous Behaviour” workshop in London on 27th November. This is the only opportunity this year for individuals to attend. For details click here.

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Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, Violence, , , , , ,

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