Criminality and Psychotherapy in Forensic Mental Health: a Hermeneutic Exploration of the Literature Around the Metaphor Monster in Relation to the Violent Offender (Meeting the Monster)

Ajayi, Olakunle
Rodgers, Brian
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

Violence is ubiquitous and widely acknowledged as part of the human experience. It is present at a global level with wars and genocide, but it is also present at a more personal level in the form of violent criminality such as murders and sexual violence. Violence captures our attention in a way few things do despite the horror, terror, and tragedy it brings with it. As a society, when we hear of horrible acts of violence, it can evoke intense reactions and can lead us to view these violent perpetrators as monsters. Using a hermeneutic methodology and a hermeneutic literature review method, this study explored a wide range of literature around the metaphor monster. The purpose of the inquiry was to find out what the literature reveals about this metaphor in relation to the violent offender within the context of psychotherapy and the forensic arena, and how this could help increase our understandings as well as enhance psychotherapy practice with this population. The findings from this study revealed the complexity of the human and monster construct. The findings also revealed manifestations of the monster within us, society, and its structures. It was proposed that there is a monster within us which as a society we attempt to negate from our awareness by projecting our badness and unacceptable parts onto the violent offender. Furthermore, the findings pointed to the idea that the metaphor monster is symbolic for the dehumanisation of the violent offender. That the conscious or unconscious perception of violent offenders as monsters can influence how we relate to them This study invites us to locate our positioning as it finds a relational model in the metaphor monster. The study argues that the metaphor monster is a useful metaphor to understanding violent offenders and our relationship with them, and with ourselves in relation to them. It is my conclusion that although further research is needed to investigate the symbolic significance of the metaphor more extensively, this study provokes thought, challenges ‘black and white’ thinking, and contributes to the body of knowledge in the discipline of psychotherapy with regard to violent offenders.

Monster , Violence , Violent offender , Crime , Psychotherapy , Forensic , Mental health , Hermeneutics
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