I recently returned to full time clinical practice after three years studying for my PhD. This was, to put it mildly, something of a culture shock! The change was compounded by my also leaving the prison where I’ve been running a clinic for the past three years in order to move to a different prison environment. This was a necessary change, but I am finding myself missing the reassuring familiarity of the old prison…
Still, in keeping with the spirit of ‘out with the old’ and a new truism that I’ve recently heard ‘the grass is greener where it is watered’ I’m going to make a concerted effort to resurrect this blog… I’m hoping that this will allow me to force myself to find some space for thought outside of daily work – something that has been somewhat strangled for me of late as I try and balance old and new commitments.
To that end I thought I would aim to write posts reflecting on thoughts, or provocations, that I’ve experienced. Not necessarily with the intention of identifying ‘answers’, but instead merely as a way of marking these thoughts to myself for future reflection.
To kick this off I thought I would begin with a few brief reflections on a recent conference that I attended. So – time to ‘climb back on the horse.’
Gender, Violence and Antisocial Personalities
This was a conference hosted in Manchester and was part of a three year seminar series, antisocial personality disorder in context, funded by the ESRC. There’s a programme for the day here.
Too much to consider to directly comment on individual talks – so some specific reflections on points that were raised during the day.
Violence and social capital
One presentation explore the manner in which violent acts can represent a form of behaviour through which social capital may be generated within fields (e.g prison, street spaces). In this formulation the individual could be seen as investing in the identity of the self as violent as a form of projection of power, or prestige.
This is an interesting formulation and one which I have come across, although not (perhaps unsurprisingly) too much as a presentation in clinic – where violence seems instead to be a manifestation of removing the invasive Other for a variety of reasons… That being said I have come across a small number of situations where people seem to be trying to make sense of abandoning the above strategy: That is, trying to move onto an alternative self-conceptualisation and leaving behind the ‘violent self.’ This is often accompanied by a grief response, that sometimes manifests in very paradoxical ways, for example through acts of self-injury.
My reflection on this therefore is how do we support individuals who wish to abandon this role? A field of literature that I’m aware psychosocial criminology has quite a lot to say about. Something for more thought another day…
Feminine violence and its manifestations
This is not something that I want to dwell on too closely tonight as I think it’s a very complex area. However, there was an interesting point raised that struck me regarding the manner in which we often (as a society) move to diminish the feminine capacity for violence and in so doing diminish the capacity of women as agents.
The more challenging point here however was the manner in which violence by both parties could be manifested within relationships. This was represented through the concept of Toxic Couples – which I’ve just ordered a copy of so maybe more to follow when I’ve sorted my thoughts.