Last November 17, 2010, I had the privilege to attend an event entitled: Perturbed Spirits: The Art and Science of Psychological Risk Assessment, at the William F. Connell School of Nursing of Boston College. The speaker was Dr. Robert Mendoza, a psychologist working in the field of forensic mental health.

Dr. Robert Mendoza spoke about how there has not been any scientific breakthrough when it comes to predetermining whether a person is psychologically disturbed or not, nor has it made headway into explaining what physically goes on in one’s brain when committing a crime. Moreover, he shared that on a daily basis criminals do not show any signs of being disturbed mentally.  There is no hard scientific basis or set of formula that determines what prompts a person to act in a questionable behavior.  For example, damage in Phineas Gage’s frontal lobe altered his behavior significantly. However, not all cases of damaged left frontal lobes result into distorted temperaments. In an article written by Alberto J Espay, MD on eMedicine.com, some patients who have dealt with the same brain impairment as that of Gage become incapable of remembering certain common words and experience difficulty in processing words spoken to them.

Overall, this event opened my eyes to the many different options nursing offers. Being in the medical field as a nurse does not necessarily imply practicing in hospital settings. It can involve working and interacting with the population and communities, including convicts—all the while selflessly caring for others.

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