Mental Health Professional Dr. Marnie Rice began her career engaging in behaviour modification of inmates in one of Canada’s most notorious mental institutions, known for its concrete cells and steel bars. It housed the most dangerous psychopaths, serial murderers and pedophiles in Canada.
Eventually, she became the Director of Research and was determined to find ways to assess the risk of violence in her patients and devise practical treatments. It was a daunting task for her to remain positive given the violence demonstrated by her charges. At one point she was attacked by a psychotic patient during a group session. She said, “He grabbed me around the neck and tried to strangle me, but he was pretty weak. Everybody jumped up to help. It was nothing serious.”
Dr. Rice used her experience to develop a tool to solve this problem of attacks on staff. She learned that assaults on staff were often prompted by staff members’ attitudes toward their patients. She developed a guide to train staff members that was used by many other institutions. She eventually developed another tool to assess the risk of releasing psychopaths back into the community.
Everyone who worked with her knew of her passion for mentoring new scientists. “She kept her door open and was happy to answer questions and give encouragement. Her nurturing prompted us to have high standards for scientific research and ethics.,” said one of those she mentored.