Forensic Psychiatry Revisited

By Nambi, S. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, September 2010 | Go to article overview
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Forensic Psychiatry Revisited

Nambi, S., Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Byline: S. Nambi

Articles related to Forensic Psychiatry published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry and Neurology and Indian Journal of Psychiatry during the last 60 years revisited. During these years, around 50 articles have been published in this subject. Psycho-criminology is the theme dealt with in most of the articles. Highlights of some of the important articles are mentioned.


It is a great opportunity to review the articles related to forensic psychiatry, which were published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (IJP) during last 60 years. [sup][1]

In the modern days, almost every aspect of life is regulated or affected in some way by law. All civilizations in the world have enacted laws to regulate human behavior, so that even the weakest can live freely and enjoy all the human rights. Legislations form the important component in the implementation of mental healthcare. There is a dynamic relationship between the concept of mental illness, the treatment of the mentally ill and the law.

"Forensic Psychiatry is a poorly defined specialty with little organized training in most countries." (WHO working group) Working knowledge of the law that regulates the practice of psychiatry assists clinicians in providing good care to patients. Psychiatrists cannot be expected to be as knowledgeable of the law as lawyers, but they do need to understand how the law and psychiatry interact in various common clinical situations. [sup][2]

In reviewing the forensic-related articles published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (IJP) during last 50 years, it is noted that there are only around 50 articles cited. If we were to classify these articles, they would fall under the following three heading:

*Psycho-criminology related articles - there are around 38 articles. *Mental health legislation articles - numbered around 5 and *The others are around eightThere is one letter to the Editor and Book Review for the book titled "Psychiatry and law" by J.C.Marfatia in 1972. These are other interesting findings in analyzing these articles. There are totally eight articles related to forensic psychiatry during the past 50 years of IJP, which include one invited editorial. They are:

*Indian Journal of neurology and psychiatry of October 1949, the editorial titled "Indian Lunacy act" (author unknown) *B.B. Sethi. "Cult Of violence" in 1984 *B.B. Sethi. "Need for Growth of Forensic Psychiatry" in 1984 *S.M. Channabasavanna. "Dialogue with Judiciary" in 1985 *A.K. Aggarwal. "Mental Health and the Law" in 1992 *T.S.S. Rao. "Psychiatrist and the Science of Criminality" in 2007 *T.S.S. Rao. "Criminal Behavior - A dispassionate look at parental disciplinary practices" in 2007 *A.K. Kala. Invited Editorial titled " of Ethical Compromising Positions and Blatant Lies about Truth Serum" in 2007These are two articles of Murthy Rao oration delivered by R.C. Kapoor in 1994 tilted "Violence in India - A Psychological Perspective" and L.P.Shah in 1999 titled "Forensic Psychiatry in India - Current Status and Future Development".[3]

It is heartening to note that the two presidential addresses are in Forensic Psychiatry, the first one by O. Somasundaram in 1987 on " The Indian lunacy act - 1912 " the historic background; and the second one by S.Nambi on " Marriage , Mental Health and Indian Legislation" in 2005. It is to be noted here that the Presidential Address by J.K.Trivedi in 2004 on "Terrorism and mental health" is also to be taken into account. Incidentally, both these presidents are from Chennai, South India. At this juncture, it is to be noted that majority of the forensic psychiatry articles in the last 50 years, around 20 are from the South and many of them are from Chennai center. The central zone (Lucknow) followed by north and west zone represent the second, third and fourth in the descending order in this category. Even though the East zone members have done some pioneering work in forensic psychiatry, only a few articles have been published.

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