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Critical Thomisim

Critical Thomisim

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Published by: enemesio on Oct 18, 2011
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Psychiatry and Justice


Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2007 by Anthony J. Fejfar

While I have sometimes been critical of psychiatry in the past, I would like to point out one

instance where psychiatry helps promote justice. Psychiatry, interestingly enough, can help to end the

“frame” of a criminal defendant. Here’s how it works.

John Doe is a political columnist for a local newspaper. John Doe thinks that he has the

protection of free speech and freedom of the press under the United States Constitution. John Doe

writes a political column where he makes fun of the local govenor for being corrupt. Soon after this,

John Doe is arrested, involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward, and then later charged criminally

with aggrevated assault for alledgedly hitting the cop who arrested him on the original involuntary


John Doe spends 2 months on a psychiatric ward for having “dangerous ideas,” and then at the

time of his discharge, is arrested off the ward, and charged criminally with aggrevated assault on a

police officer. John Doe spends 20 days in jail and then is transferred to a forensic psychiatric ward for

evaluation of judicial competency to stand trial. After the transfer, John Doe complains to the forensic

psychiatrist that he has been “framed” by the police and prosecutor on false charges. John Doe insists

that he never committed aggrevated assault, and that the cop and prosecutor made the whole thing up.

What is the forensic psychiatrist to do in this situation? Well, what he does is to diagnose John

Doe with schizo-affective disorder for having the “delusion” of being “framed.” Now, this may seem

unfair, but in fact this is probably the only way that John Doe will avoid spending the rest of his life in

prison as a result of the frame. The psychiatrist really doesn’t even have to believe John Doe, one way

or the other in order for this technique to work. The psychiatrist presumes John Doe to be delusional

about the frame, and this is precisely what makes John Doe judicially incompetent to stand trial at the

time of trial. Whether he knows it or not, the psychiatrist is a hero.

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