News and events Tilburg University

Dr. Mario Braakman appointed as Endowed Professor of Transcultural Forensic Psychiatry

Published: 10th October 2019 Last updated: 10th October 2019

Tilburg University has appointed Dr. Mario Braakman as Endowed Professor of Transcultural Forensic Psychiatry for one day a week, effective October 1, 2019. Braakman has devoted himself many years to making behavioral experts’ reports in the justice system more culture-sensitive and to improving the psychiatric care for detainees and persons with a migration background who are detained under a hospital order. He will conduct academic research at the Criminal Law Department of Tilburg Law School to support this mission. The professorship is established by Stichting Koningsheide and financially supported by Pro Persona, an organization for specialist mental health care.

Within the Dutch criminal justice system, certain ethnic and cultural minorities seem to be overrepresented. In forensic psychiatry, fundamental questions arise in this context, such as: how reliable is the behavioral examination of suspects and offenders with a migration background? This has an impact on the criminal law practice, among other things, because the decision on the legal accountability of the accused is in the hands of the judge, and is also based on forensic psychiatric examination. Various research issues related to the cultural background of offenders also arise when imposing such criminal-law sanctions as hospital orders and long-term custodial sentences.

As part of his work as an Endowed Professor of Transcultural Forensic Psychiatry, Dr. Mario Braakman will conduct research aimed at improving the behavioral experts’ examination of alleged offenders with a migration background. He will also explore ways to make treatments in secure hospitals culture-sensitive, and hence to make these treatments more efficient and more successful. Finally, he will study how psychological testing instruments can be validated cross-culturally, as well as crime scenarios and risk assessments within forensic psychiatry.

Professor Mario Braakman (1961) is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and cultural anthropologist. He studied medicine and cultural anthropology at Nijmegen University. He conducted anthropological field work among Maya Indians in Yucatan, Mexico, and graduated cum laude as an anthropologist in 1989. Having qualified as a medical doctor in 1991, he started his psychiatric studies in the psychiatric hospital in Wolfheze. As a psychiatrist, he was Head of Treatment for ten years in a specialized psychiatric clinic for asylum seekers and refugees of what was to become Pro Persona. Since 2007, he has been Director of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program at Pro Persona and, in 2013, he earned a PhD based on research into determining the diagnostic validity of the concept of ‘psychotic post-traumatic stress disorder’ in refugees. Furthermore, he works as a psychiatrist in a transcultural psychiatric treatment team and provides second opinions for migrants and refugees with psychiatric problems. During his entire career, he has made behavioral expert reports; at the moment, he exclusively conducts specialized examinations of alleged offenders with a migration background.

In addition, Braakman is editor-in-chief of the academic journal World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review and president-elect of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry. Since eight years, he has also worked at a different interface between law and psychiatry: as a medical practitioner member at the Medical Disciplinary Tribunal in Zwolle.

Pro Persona deals with requests for help in the area of specialist mental health care. The organization offers specialist care to youth, adults, and elderly people with psychological problems.

Stichting Koningsheide supports aimed at mental health care and affiliated scientific disciplines. The main focus is on forensic psychiatry, in addition to transcultural psychiatry and youth psychiatry.

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