Apr 20, 2019
This week on MIA Radio, we
present our second chat with Doctor Lee Coleman. In the first
interview in this series, we discussed Lee’s career, his
views as a critical psychiatrist and his 1984 book
Reign of Error. For this second
interview, we focus on psychiatry in the courtroom and why the
psychiatric expert witness role may be failing both the individual
on trial and society at large. We also focus on Chapter 3 of Reign
of Error: The Insanity Defence, Storytelling on the Witness
In this episode we discuss:
- What led Lee to his involvement in the courtroom as a
psychiatrist testifying as to the reliability of psychiatric
- How both psychiatrists and psychologists have been given a role
by society to judge both the current mental state of an individual
on trial and also the potential future behaviour of that
- How important it is to address the three dimensions of past,
present and future when looking at psychological testimony.
- The role of psychiatry in the trial of Patty Hearst, when
required to provide evidence that she has been brainwashed and
therefore was incompetent to stand trial.
- How Lee and a colleague, George Alexander, came to arrange a
press conference to address the issue of the reliability of
psychiatric or psychological testimony.
- How speaking out in this way ultimately led to many years of
opposition not only by psychiatry but also by attorneys on both
sides of the debate.
- The legal definition of the term ‘insanity’ and the context in
which it is used.
- How if someone is found legally insane, the punishment may be
far worse and the incarceration far longer than if that person were
- The details surrounding the trial of Dr. Geza De Kaplany, who
committed a gruesome murder but came to be represented at trial as
having multiple personalities and being mentally disordered.
- The inconsistency often found in both the defense and
prosecution in the courtroom when it comes to subjective
assessments of the mental state of an individual.
- That it is crucial that people band together to share
information and to actively demonstrate and have conferences and
influence legislators because we can’t rely on media channels and
we can’t rely on professional bodies.
The Reign of Error
Competent to Stand Trial?- A Psychiatric Farce
Society Doesn't Need Protection from the "mentally ill"
Trial of Patty Hearst
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