• Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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Forensic psychiatrist Sohom Das recalls how he was knocked unconscious by stranger on first day of his job

He says almost every perpetrator is a victim – they were vulnerable during childhood or adolescence.

Forensic psychiatrist Sohom Das (Image credit: @Dr_S_Das)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

Forensic psychiatrist Sohom Das who handles the difficult task of assessing mentally ill offenders recalled his first day on the job when he was knocked unconscious by a man whom he had never known before.

During his chat with ITV presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond on This Monday show, the Londoner said he was randomly attacked by the stranger who punched him on the side of his head.

The author of the book ‘In Two Minds: Stories of Murder, Justice and Recovery from a Forensic Psychiatrist’ feels empathy for mentally ill offenders.

According to him, almost every perpetrator is a victim – they were vulnerable during childhood or adolescence.

Recalling his first day, he said, “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.

“It wasn’t that dramatic for me, because it was so out of the blue. I lost consciousness and woke up on the floor. It was over before it started.”

He went on: “I stumbled into a 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.

“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…”

Although Das admits there are certain things which could not be discussed on a television show, he said he seeks to bust myths surrounding mental illness.

“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.

“I don’t want to add to the stigma that people with mental illness are dangerous,” he said.

He said he does not want to judge offenders.

“My role is only to find out if they have a mental illness. Do they have symptoms, and were they responsible for that?” he said.

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