ABSTRACT

In attempting to establish a sociological understanding of the mentally disordered offender, contextualised within society, we need to investigate three fundamental areas of our social fabric. Firstly, we need to analyse crime. We need to know as much of our fascination for it as our fear of it. We need to be equally aware of our attempts to control it, as we are regarding our role in producing it. And, whilst we will concentrate on our abhorrence of crime, we must not forget our desire to be a part of it. Secondly, it will be required of us to address the nature of mental abnormality, its construction and function. We will need to assess our perceptions, beliefs, and prejudices in relation to its uses and abuses in social terms. It will be required of us to understand the vested interests in relation to the sphere of mental disorder and analyse the affiliations of power that are constructed to manage it. Thirdly, we must attempt to penetrate that, as yet, veiled area that lies between crime and mental disorder, the social domain in which resides the mentally disordered offender. There are few signposts in this area and so we must navigate carefully.