The personal social networks of personality disordered forensic psychiatric patients

Lydia Ter Haar-Pomp, Marinus Spreen, Stefan Bogaerts, Beate Volker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


There has hardly been any examination of the personal social networks of personality disordered forensic psychiatric patients leading up to, and at the time of their offence. To shed light on this question, 36 male inpatients were interviewed by forensic social workers about their social contacts in the period in which they committed their crime. Network size, roles, social support, investment, structure and potential risks were investigated.
At the time of their offence, patients were in contact with a variety of social network members, especially family members, who also happened to be the most likely victims of the patients’ offences. Patients received social support; almost half of the social supporters had potential risk factors (criminal record, psychiatric problems, drug use, etc.).
This study shows the complexity of the social factors involved with criminal behavior. Theoretically, good network conditions do not necessarily imply a low risk for each individual case. Forensic social workers should frequently check if there are significant changes in the patient's network, such as access to victims, instability of relationships, a lack of personal support and the influence of high-risk network members.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-276
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Social work
  • personal social network
  • risk assessment
  • management
  • mental health
  • law
  • social support

Cite this