Criminal psychiatrist reveals he was punched in the face and knocked unconscious ‘out-of-the-blue’ by a stranger on his first day – but confesses he feels ’empathy’ for mentally ill offenders
- Dr Das, from London, works as expert witness in criminal and civil court cases
- Forensic expert’s job involves assessing and rehabilitating mentally ill offenders
- Appeared on This Morning today when he said he feels ’empathy’ for criminals
- Meanwhile he also revealed how he was punched in the face on his first day
A criminal psychiatrist who assesses ‘mentally ill’ offenders has revealed how he was knocked unconscious after being punched by a stranger on his first day on the job.
Dr Sohom Das, from London, assesses those in prison, court, or in locked secure forensic psychiatric units – which are reserved for the most violent and dangerous mentally ill patients.
He appeared on This Morning today, where he discussed his new book In Two Minds: Stories of Murder, Justice and Recovery from a Forensic Psychiatrist.
During the chat with Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond, Dr Das explained he was ‘randomly attacked’ on his first day, adding: ‘I was on the ward assessing someone else and he had these delusional beliefs about me. He thought I was someone from his past, a bully in disguise, and he just ran up and punched me on the side of the head.’
He added: ‘It wasn’t that dramatic for me, because it was so out the blue. I lost consciousness and woke up on the floor. It was over before it started.’
Criminal psychiatrist Dr Sohom Das, from London, has revealed how he was knocked unconscious after being punched by a stranger on his first day on the job
Appearing on This Morning, Dr Das said: ‘I stumbled into forensic psychiatrist. As a kid I listened to gangster rap, NWA, Snoop Dog. I didn’t realise back then that you could do that as a career.
‘I did medicine and struggled through my university, just about passed my exams, maybe took socialising a bit too seriously, didn’t concentrate on my studying.
‘I never really felt inspired and then I did a psychiatry placement. The stories were so fascinating, stepping into the world of people who had these strange beliefs or were at the lowest ebb, post-suicide attempt.
‘Then forensics specifically is fascinating to me because there is always a back story.
During the chat with Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond, Dr Das explained he was ‘randomly attacked’ on his first day in a secure unit
‘There is a reason people have lived a life of repeated criminality or mental illness. and it’s often the same factors -poverty, drug abuse, witnessing domestic violence…’
He continued: ‘If I was going to break it down, there’s two areas of my job. I act as an expert witness, making comments on criminal responsibility, whether they’re mentally ill or not or need to go to hospital or prison.
‘The other side is once they’ve gone through that process, the small proportion that need long term rehabilitation. I help make them safe to be released into society.’
Meanwhile he said he was motivated to write his book because he had ‘all these stories.’
He continued: ‘I’ve seen patients that have done unmentionable things. Things I couldn’t talk about on morning TV. I just thought there’s a big thirst out there for it, so I want to demystify some of the myths.
Meanwhile the psychiatrist also said he often feels ’empathy’ for offenders he is treating, despite their horrendous crimes
‘Everyone is interested in the murders, but part of the process is to make people safer and rehabilitate them.
He said: ‘I don’t want to add to the stigma that people with mental illness are dangerous.
‘But it just so happens the ones that I see as a forensic psychologist go through the criminal justice system.’
Meanwhile Dr Das went on to describe the characteristics that make up a killer, saying: ‘The people I see tend to be the offenses are driven by symptoms of mental illness. In theory, they’re easy to treat and medicate.
‘On the other end of the spectrum, you get people who are much more anti-social in terms of their personality. It’s in them. It’s part of their nature.’
Meanwhile he argued that criminality is both ‘nature and nurture’, adding: ‘There are traits that run in families, but to me it’s more interesting seeing the nurture.
‘Every defendant I assess, there’s some reason why they have this inferiority complex. It grows like a cancer.’
And he said he does feel empathy for offenders he sees, saying: ‘When I carry out my work, sometimes I see people who have carried about horrific offenses – crimes against strangers, offenses involving children.
‘I’m very clear in my mind what my role is. My role is never to judge them. the criminal justice system does that.
‘My role is only to find out if they have a mental illness. Do they have symptoms, and were they responsible for that?
‘Almost every perpetrator is a victims. It’s easy to judge the person in front of you but at some point, they were a vulnerable child or adolescent.’
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