Gwen Adshead interview: Why peculiar folks commit heinous crimes



Three decades spent working as a psychotherapist with the most violent offenders has convinced Gwen Adshead that they aren’t the monsters we portray them as


29 September 2021

Jennie Edwards

HOW do people come to commit violent and life-threatening acts? Some think such people are innately bad, calling them “monsters” or “evil”. It is a view that William Shakespeare encapsulated in The Tempest when Prospero says of Caliban that he is “a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick”. But Gwen Adshead doesn’t accept that view. She has spent her career working as a psychotherapist with offenders in prisons and secure psychiatric hospitals, including Broadmoor Hospital, where some of the UK’s most notorious criminals are detained. Rather than seeing violent offenders as being innately evil, she thinks of her patients as survivors …