The BBC’s Today programme on Radio 4 is the nation’s flagship news and current affairs broadcast. On Saturday 15 August one section of the programme examined the fallout from the ‘Baby P’ case – three adults including the mother were convicted over the death of a two-year-old boy. The lifting of anonymity protection for Baby P’s mother and her lover led to a flood of detail about their lives in this week’s papers. Criminal psychologist Professor David Canter and moral philosopher Baroness Warnock discussed how the media have been portraying the couple, and whether the language used has been appropriate.
Professor Canter mused about whether the protagonists had some kind of ‘personality disorder’. Baroness Warnock objected to this idea. ‘That (idea) has always completley puzzled me, since psychiatrists on the whole seem to regard this as beyond changing. They don’t talk about curing it, they simply say ‘he’s got a personality disorder’. I don’t understand the causal implications of that. What I’d like to know is whether Professor Canter thinks that people can be changed… Could these people have overcome their tendancies to sadism and bullying and tormenting babies?” Continue reading →