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Winter 2016
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By Theodore Dalrymple

The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism.

Eye on the News

Theodore Dalrymple
Blaming the Victim
For British psychiatrists, the real victims are those behind bars.
April 25, 2003

The suicide rate in British prisons has doubled despite—I use the word despite in its loosest possible sense—official attempts to reduce it. Although the average citizen is probably not too deeply concerned about this rise, there has been a great deal of adverse publicity about it. It is one of the many ways in which compassionate liberals wear their hearts on their sleeves.

I recently came across a document from Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists—the British equivalent of the American Psychiatric Association—about suicide in prison. It was at pains to point out that the college did not blame the wardens for the rise in prison suicides. The document alluded to the high suicide rate of the wardens as well as of the prisoners. In doing so, it stated categorically, “Prison staff are themselves victims of the prison system and the criminal justice system as a whole.”

As well as whom, you might ask? The prisoners, of course. They are the real victims of the criminal justice system. As for the burgled, the blackmailed, the murdered, and so forth—they, presumably, are the primitively vengeful victimizers.

Talk about blaming the victim! With psychiatrists like these, who needs madmen?

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