Concept of the Month -- December 2012

"Depression" and the Criminal

Offenders are frequently considered to be suffering from depression by concerned families and, under certain circumstances, by clinical evaluators, i.e., trained mental health professionals.

Consider the circumstances in which offenders are evaluated by professionals. These are situations that are unpalatable to offenders. That is, they are being held accountable after being apprehended for a crime. Thus they are facing charges and may be in jail or awaiting trial while still in the community. Under conditions that they abhor,offenders may indeed seem despondent.

The question is whether they are depressed about themselves or only about the situation in which they find themselves.

People become depressed for many reasons. On the surface, it is often difficult to determine what lies behind the depressed countenance and mood. Is the person despairing about himself because he believes he is lacking or insufficient in some manner? Or is he depressed only because he does not like the circumstances in which he finds himself? It is essential to make this distinction when assessing criminals and reporting on their mental state.

Return to Dr. Samenow's Homepage