Forensic Psychiatry in Pakistan: An Update

Pakistan is a lower-middle income country in South Asia where forensic psychiatry is often not recognized as a distinct subspecialty of psychiatry. Although evolution toward this direction has begun, more development in this field is needed. Before Pakistan’s Mental Health Ordinance of 2001, much of the mental health legislation and institutional infrastructure pertaining to the mentally ill offender can be traced back to the Indian Lunacy Act of 1912. The past two decades have witnessed important legal developments in the role of psychiatry in Pakistan’s criminal justice system. This has been seen through the devolution of health-care provision and by an extension of psychiatric service provision from the federation (federal government) to the four provinces. Despite the sparse resources allocated to psychiatry, competent yet scarce psychiatry residents are graduating from Pakistan’s accredited residency programs with an interest in forensic psychiatry. The objective of this article is to reflect on the past, while examining the current state of existing forensic mental health in Pakistan. This article will also address the future trajectory of forensic psychiatry in Pakistan and supports the establishment of forensic psychiatry as a subspecialty in Pakistan.

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Ethics, Risk and Recovery—Challenges in Forensic Practice

The practice of recovery-oriented care with individuals who have been found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible, and who are subject to review board dispositions, presents a variety of ethical tensions. The assessment and management of risk in a rehabilitative context raises issues of autonomy, confidentiality, and conflicting roles. Awareness of and, where possible, resolution of these conflicts is necessary for the success of the recovery paradigm in this context.

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The Greats: Perspectives on Excellence in Forensic Psychiatry

For forensic psychiatry to thrive as a profession, practitioners need to be committed to intentional, continuous learning and development throughout their careers. However, carving their way through the challenges of practice and finding room to grow can be daunting. Research can help lessen this burden by examining the careers of experienced and skilled practitioners, identifying the factors that influenced their development, and the strategies they used to direct it. To date, little research of this kind has been conducted in forensic psychiatry. In this study, we used the deliberate practice model of elite performance as a heuristic to interpret the accounts of several experienced and distinguished practitioners, revealing and characterizing the influences and activities they identify as having been most important to their development. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with six participants from across North America who started their forensic careers between 1965 and 1980. Transcripts were analyzed using directed content analysis. Participants cited little in the way of highly structured activities designed specifically to improve performance. They instead described using opportunities to learn from real casework and additional knowledge pursuits, as well as using deliberate career management to structure the conditions of their work-based learning. They also stressed the effect of entering forensic practice during a period of increasing interest, demand and investment, which yielded early opportunities to learn through practice. We discuss limitations in the deliberate practice model’s capacity to capture key learning strategies in forensic psychiatry, connections between work-based learning and the discipline’s general historical trajectory, and the role of career management in professional development strategies.

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Psychiatrie légale canadienne et française : application dans le domaine pénal

L’expertise psychiatrique est une des disciplines de la psychiatrie légale. Sa pratique est spécifique aux juridictions où elle s’exerce et aux ressources qui lui sont attribuées. L’évolution des connaissances en psychiatrie et psychopathologie, ainsi que les décisions politiques ont un impact majeur sur la nature et le déroulement des missions d’expertise. Il existe des différences significatives entre les pays, ce qui surprend fréquemment, puisque la pratique de la psychiatrie générale est quant à elle la même. Nous proposons dans cet article une comparaison entre la pratique de l’expertise psychiatrique pénale en France et au Canada.

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