The assessment and treatment of sex offenders presents many challenges to the psychiatrist—the complex nature of the relationship with the criminal justice system, the often abhorrent nature of the psychopathology, the resistance to treatment, the constant need for assessment of risk, and the patient's capacity to displace responsibility onto professionals. Therefore it is not surprising that many psychiatrists are reluctant to take such patients on for treatment. However, there is increasing recognition that more specialist centres are required which offer the opportunity of the necessary treatment as an adjunct to society's understandable request for retribution through penal sanctions. By focusing on the individual it is possible to achieve a balance between the needs of that individual and the needs of society.

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