‘Dangers by being despised grow great’
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‘Dangers by being despised grow great’ book
When the editors of this volume invited me to contribute I began to think about how long it had been since I first became interested in what is generally called dangerousness in both the criminal justice and forensic mental health fields. I suppose it stemmed originally from my very early days as a probation officer in the 1950s. To some extent my interest could be seen as somewhat dormant until 1977 when, in my view, two seminal papers appeared in the literature. The first was a fascinating article written from a criminological perspective by Professor Tony Bottoms (now Sir Anthony Bottoms) on the basis of an inaugural professorial lecture at Sheffield University (Bottoms 1977). The second was a most thoughtful (and thought-provoking) clinical contribution by my friend the late Dr Peter Scott. His paper was published a short while after his too early demise (Scott 1977). From then on I attempted to take a more focused interest in the phenomenon, and have written and lectured pretty extensively about it. Having said that, readers of this volume might well ask whether I have anything to say that’s new. In my defence I will try to place the issue of so-called dangerousness in perspective; what follows might be deemed to be a summary of some of my previous work (for a more extended treatment of the topic see, for example, Prins 1999). The present contribution attempts to deal with the following aspects: first, a very brief historical context; second, a comment on the background of a society obsessed by ‘danger’ and ‘risk’; third, danger and risk defined; and fourth, clinical aspects.