Item Details

Beyond Kindness: The Place of Compassion in a Forensic Mental Health Setting

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2013)

Journal: Health and Social Care Chaplaincy

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication

DOI: 10.1558/hscc.v1i1.11


Caring that is genuinely person-centred and truly compassionate can be difficult in a forensic mental health context. Whilst our professional roles indicate that we need to be kind to offenders no matter what they may have done or how they behave, the question of whether and how we should be compassionate is more complex. Kindness is a personal quality that enables an individual to be sensitive to the needs of others and to take personal action to endeavour to meet those needs. Compassion has to do with a deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it. Compassion differs from kindness in that its focus is primarily on the alleviation of suffering. Compassion is precisely what many offenders don’t appear to have and yet, compassion is precisely what they often require. In this paper I will explore the complex tension between kindness and compassion and its relationship to spiritual care, with a view to opening up some creative conversations that are theoretically interesting and practically significant for those who offer and receive care within a forensic mental health context.

Author: John Swinton

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References :

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Richman, J., D. Mercer and Y. Mason (1999) “The Social Construction of Evil in a Forensic Setting”. The Journal of Forensic Nursing 10.2: 300–308.
Swinton, J. (2007) Raging With Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007).
—(2012) Dementia: Living in The Memories of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.