Forensic Psychiatry in the Largest Secure Ward in Portugal: Characteristics of the Population and Psychopharmacological Intervention

Forensic psychiatry is defined as a specialty of psychiatry in which clinical and scientific knowledge is applied to the legal system, both with regard to civil and criminal law. Nowadays, the largest security ward is in Coimbra, at the University Hospital. It comprises 111 patients: 91 males and 20 females. The aim of the security measures, according to the penal code, is the protection of legal assets and psychosocial rehabilitation. In our sample, the most frequent diagnosis was Schizophrenia (37.8%); Moderate Intellectual Disability (23.4%) and Mild Intellectual Disability (14.4%) were the second and third most frequent diagnoses. The criminal acts accounting for the most prevalent security measures fell under domestic violence (19.8%) first, followed by attempted murder (16.2%), and theft (14.5%). The elaboration of a therapeutic and rehabilitation plan is essential, and its aim is to diminish the person’s dangerousness. It is fundamental to think of the safety ward as a health production space and not as a place of mere disease management or “dangerous states”, thus trying to solve the patient’s problems.

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