chapter  16
The mentally disordered offender: looking-glass monsters – reflections of the paedophile in popular culture D AV E MERCER AND TUXEPHONI SIMMONDS
Looking-glass monsters: reflections of the paedophile in popular culture
ByDave Mercer, Tuxephoni Simmonds
Pages 11

The inclusion of the mentally disordered offender in a healthcare text dealing with human difference, ‘otherness’ and exclusion is both persuasive and problematic. Collectively, those individuals who transgress legal and moral codes face a double stigma, typically characterised as a sickness of mind and spirit. Their treatment or management is often enacted within institutions of maximum security that are geographically, socially and symbolically remote from the society against which they have offended. It is not unusual for their crimes to attract widespread reportage and condemnation, as the ‘monsters’ of tabloid headlines. Here is the first contradiction of their ‘moral career’, as shameful pariah and public persona – of secrecy and scrutiny. In an age of psychiatric revisionism, democracy and de-institutionalisation, forensic provision signifies a vestige of the era of the asylum, whose inhabitants occupy a sinister world. It is a world where care must compete with containment, custody and control; where the patient is a prisoner; where the client is coerced; and where rehabilitation and reform are inseparably linked to wider debates about screening and surveillance of the social body. Faced by the spectre of the ‘dangerous individual’, then, stigma is inevitable and functional. Or, is it?