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Philip Saragoza, MD

Philip Saragoza, MD, is a board-certified forensic psychiatrist and Senior Associate threat assessment consultant with Work Trauma Services, Inc. He performs direct and indirect threat assessment consultations for WTS, workplace and campus violence prevention and WAVR-21 training, and assists other WTS associates with psychiatric consultation issues. Dr. Saragoza is an adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. He is the psychiatric consultant for the University of Michigan's integrated disability management program and the University health system’s employee assistance program. Through these agencies, he has conducted case consultations involving claims of hostile work environments, workplace harassment, employee violence risk and fitness for duty. Previously, Dr. Saragoza served as the Director of UM’s Forensic Psychiatry Clinic, conducting evaluations and consultations on issues related to violence risk, fitness for duty, psychiatric disability, civil commitment, and other forensic issues. Dr. Saragoza worked for several years as a Consulting Forensic Examiner at the State of Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry, a maximum security hospital for mentally ill offenders. There, he treated inpatients found Incompetent to Stand Trial or legally insane, performed release-planning risk assessments, and conducted court-ordered examinations of competency and sanity, primarily for violent offenses. Dr. Saragoza has conducted hundreds of assessments of individuals who have engaged in threats, stalking and violent behavior, and has served as an expert witness on civil and criminal psychiatric issues in numerous courts. As an educator, Dr. Saragoza supervises residents and fellows in forensic psychiatry and provides lectures and seminars to a wide variety of professionals, including mental health professionals, corporate and human resource managers, and campus audiences. His peer-reviewed publications include topics such as psychopathy, malingering, workplace violence risk, and the role of expert opinion in various criminal contexts. Philip Saragoza, MD

Programs Featuring Philip Saragoza, MD

Threat Assessment Update 2020: Extremism and Lone Actor Terrorism
Domestic terrorism is on the rise in the United States as social and political polarization escalates. With a national election on the horizon, anxiety concerning a pandemic, and widespread civil unrest, how do threat assessors identify, assess, and manage individuals who may pose a risk of extremist violence? Are there ways to separate the supporters of various causes from those who intend to act and mobilize for violence?

This virtual seminar, over three half-day sessions, will discuss findings and insights from research and in-depth case studies that reveal the psychology of extremists and lone actor terrorists. Participants will be instructed on the use of investigative techniques and structured assessment strategies that inform case management decision making.

Initial topics will include the rising prevalence of conspiracy theory, practical tools for debunking such theory, extreme overvalued beliefs vs. delusions, and stochastic terrorism from political leaders. The training will continue with a focus on specific beliefs and movements, including accelerationists, replacement theory, the Incels and other extreme misogynists, White Nationalists, Boogaloo, QAnon, Atomwaffen, and more. The tactics of such groups include using progressive left wing protests to achieve extreme right wing (XRW) goals, and magnifying COVID-19 fears to advance anti-government attitudes. Intensive case studies will deepen understanding of the radicalization path, including the Toronto automobile massacre (Minassian), the false pipe bomb dissemination (Sayoc), and an updated perspective on the Isla Vista mass murder (Rodger). Emphasis will be placed upon both online and on the ground investigations. The training will conclude with a thorough introduction to the TRAP-18, a validated risk assessment instrument for lone actor terrorist violence.

Violent Extremism, 2021: A Threat Assessment Update (Virtual)
Domestic terrorism and extreme belief communities are on the rise in the United States as social and political polarization continues unabated. The recent attack on the US Capitol has dramatically demonstrated how serious and how dangerous these trends are in their reach and influence in our culture.

With a violently contested election, widespread civil unrest, ongoing losses from the pandemic, and a furiously active internet, how do threat assessors identify, assess, and manage individuals who may pose a risk of extremist violence? Are there ways to separate the supporters of various causes from those who intend to act and mobilize for violence?

This virtual seminar, building upon our extremism seminar last September, will be expanded to four, half-day sessions (16 hours). 50% of the content in this program will be new. We will discuss findings and insights from research and in-depth case studies that reveal the psychology of extremist communities and lone actor terrorists. Participants will be instructed on the use of investigative techniques and structured assessment strategies that inform case management decision-making.

Initial topics will include the rising prevalence of violent extremism, conspiracy theory, extreme overvalued beliefs, and stochastic terrorism, including incitement to violence from political leaders. The training will continue with a focus on specific belief systems and movements, including: accelerationism and anti-government, militia extremist movements (including Boogaloo and the Oath Keepers); white supremacist violence and The Great Replacement theory; the Incels and other extreme misogynists; present-day conspiracy theories including QAnon and COVID-19 belief systems; ideologically-motivated groups including Antifa and the Proud Boys; and other domestic terrorists specifically targeting law enforcement. Intensive case studies will deepen understanding of the factors contributing to radicalization and culminating in the various pathways to extremist violence. Cases will include the Michigan anti-government plot, the Christchurch massacre, and the influence of the first “Incel” mass murder in 2014 in Isla Vista, California. As events are continuing to unfold in our current atmosphere of unrest and transition, more recent incidents may be included. The importance of both online and on the ground investigations will be stressed. The training will be framed by the TRAP-18, a validated risk assessment instrument for lone actor terrorist violence.

Emphasis will be placed upon the application of theory and research to the assessment of individuals of concern. A range of intervention strategies will be discussed, incorporating an understanding of the processes of radicalization and deradicalization as well as psychological factors contributing to extremist beliefs. We will identify symptoms of mental illness that may contribute to extremism in individual cases, and how to distinguish these from extreme beliefs per se.