Letter: Jayne Zito pinpointed true cause of tragedies

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The Independent Online
A WEEK last Friday, a book I edited called Cruelty, Violence and Murder: understanding the criminal mind was launched. This is not an advertisement. It is part of the compelling (many would argue overwhelming) body of evidence from psychiatrists and researchers around the world - especially in the USA and Scandinavia - that supports Jayne Zito's call for improved therapeutic engagement with potential killers who are psychopathic or psychotic or both ("The Michael Stones of the future can be treated - but we must start now", 25 October).

Long-term studies have shown that a purely pharmacological (drug) approach does not work with these patients. Their personalities need to be understood and helped in a psychotherapeutic way. But psychotherapy alone also does not work. A combination of both approaches on a multi-disciplinary basis is now widely held to be the best method of detoxifying these patients of their murderousness. The current crisis in Britain is the consequence of an increasing reluctance in the NHS and elsewhere to understand and deal with "madness" in its different guises. The more we allow fear and ignorance to rule our mental health-care strategies, the more that tragedies like those of Jonathan Zito, Lin and Megan Russell and many others will occur.

Some health authorities such as my own in Basildon have learnt this and now offer adequate psychotherapeutic help. Regrettably, many do not, and a campaign to change this dangerous situation is urgently needed.

PAUL WILLIAMS

British Confederation of Psychotherapists

London NW2

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