Psychologists Talk About The 'Red Flag' Patients Who Truly Terrified Them.

Psychologists Talk About The ‘Red Flag’ Patients Who Truly Terrified Them.


I did call both wife and police, but I was frightened when I left the office on the way to my car. However, thankfully, he was not there waiting for me in the parking lot. Nevertheless I checked the rear view mirror frequently on my drive home. He did not kill his wife, and he never returned.

On the second occasion, a very paranoid patient accused me of making sexual overtures toward him. He was a large and muscular person. He left the office angry and later that day punched a stranger who he passed on the street, accusing the person of the same. He ended up in jail.

I visited him there, but he refused to speak with me. On release from jail, he was transferred to an inpatient psychiatric unit. He was started on medication and was good for a while but went off his meds, hit another stranger, and was jailed again.

My advice for dealing with volatile people is that it helps to be calm, clear and direct with these people, and not to speak loudly. Make sure to have an escape plan and stay at the same level with patient. That is, don’t stand above him, which might be considered threatening or don’t sit when he is standing, in a more vulnerable position.

-Bruce Neben

7/8. It’s not a good feeling when your patients intimidate you. Fortunately, I learned how to deal with it early from a very good professor who said to me: “why don’t you tell them they are making you afraid?”

Once I did that, I was amazed at the results. I was shocked as to how oblivious some people are to how they come across to other people.

Helped me differentiate the really bad ones from those who had more of a conscience, empathy and self-control.

-Steve DeBerry

8/8. Before I started my first job in mental health I did what any normal person would do: looked at forensic mental health stuff on the internet. And through my perusal I found an incredibly detailed article about a young man who had gouged his own mother’s eyes out.

I read about it a bit, then set the paper aside and thought no more of it. the next week, I started my first placement on a psych ward. (continued…)

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