Dangerous Lunatics: Trauma, Criminality and Forensic Psychotherapy

Author(s) : Brett Kahr

Dangerous Lunatics: Trauma, Criminality and Forensic Psychotherapy

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In the pre-modern era, those who committed serious crimes would invariably be treated with extreme cruelty - often punished, tortured, eviscerated, and executed in the most grisly, sadistic fashion. Over time, the treatment of offenders has become more enlightened and more benign. But have we really progressed sufficiently in our approach to the rehabilitation and cure of vicious perpetrators of savage acts?

This book considers the intersection between madness and violence across the ages, and investigates how Sigmund Freud and the early generation of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists challenged the more primitive, punitive models. Professor Kahr also discusses some landmark projects, which help to humanise serious criminal offenders and further our understanding of the ways in which severe early childhood trauma plays an important role in the genesis of extreme criminality.

Reviews and Endorsements

“Only Brett Kahr could produce such a masterpiece as Dangerous Lunatics. Written in a stunning literary style, Kahr’s book combines his unique expertise as a clinician and as an historian to tell this vital tale about how we have treated criminals throughout the ages and how we might do much, much better in the future!” – Professor Estela V. Welldon, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Portman Clinic, London, and Honorary President for Life of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy.

“What a magnificent book! A carefully researched ‘tour de force’, encompassing a history of criminality and madness through exquisitely described stories. It offers hope that one day we might actually rehumanise the dehumanised, making the world a safer place for all.” Dr Carine Minne, Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy, Portman Clinic and Broadmoor Hospital.

About the Author(s)

Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health profession for over forty years. A clinical registrant of both the British Psychoanalytic Council and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, he is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London and, also, Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regents University London.

Over the decades, Kahr has worked in the National Health Service and in private practice in Central London with both individuals and couples. He is currently Consultant Psychotherapist to The Balint Consultancy and, additionally, Consultant in Psychology at The Bowlby Centre. He also serves as Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council, as well as Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health.

Professor Kahr is the Honorary Director of Research at Freud Museum London and, also, an Honorary Fellow of the museum. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of the International Campaign for the Freud Museum from 1986-1987 and, more recently, as Trustee of both Freud Museum London and of Freud Museum Publications from 2011-2020.

In addition to his clinical practice, Kahr has collaborated with the media in order to promote mental health knowledge. Formerly Resident Psychotherapist on BBC Two, broadcasting about mental health issues to millions of listeners, he has appeared on over one thousand radio and television programmes. In recognition of his work in this field, he has become Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy recently awarded him an Honorary Fellowship for his contributions to public service.

Professor Kahr is the author of sixteen books and series editor of more than seventy-five additional titles on a wide range of subjects.

His solo-authored books cover a range of topics, including clinical investigations of extreme psychopathology and forensic mental health, such as his titles, Bombs in the Consulting Room: Surviving Psychological Shrapnel, as well as Dangerous Lunatics: Trauma, Criminality, and Forensic Psychotherapy. He has also written on Sex and the Psyche, a Waterstones Non-Fiction Bestseller and a chosen title in the Sunday Times Book Club, based on his study of the traumatic, unconscious roots of over 20,000 adult sexual fantasies, as well as Celebrity Mad: Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame. His historically orientated books include the very first biography of Donald Winnicott, entitled D.W. Winnicott: A Biographical Portrait, which received the Gradiva Award for Biography, as well as the popular titles, Life Lessons from Freud, Tea with Winnicott, and Coffee with Freud. Most recently, he has released Freud's Pandemics: Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, the inaugural title in the new Freud Museum London Series of history books, published by Karnac Books exploring not only how Sigmund Freud navigated the tragedies of his own lifetime but, also, how he would have handled the COVID-19 pandemic and what lessons our world leaders might learn from those pioneering psychoanalytical concepts.

Professor Kahr has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Karnac Books and has produced many books with this publisher and has also served as series editor or series co-editor or consultant to four of its monograph series. More recently, he has become Series Editor of the Freud Museum London Series, hosted by Karnac Books in association with Freud Museum London, as well as Advisory Editor-in-Chief to Karnac Books and to its sibling imprint Confer Books.

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