Perceptions of psychiatric testimony: a historical perspective on the hysterical invective

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1986;14(3):203-19.


This paper discusses the perceptions of psychiatric testimony by the public, lawyers, and psychiatrists. Five major criticisms are put into historical perspective: psychiatrists excuse sin; psychiatrists always disagree; psychiatrists give confusing, subjective, uninformed, jargon-ridden testimony; psychiatrists dictate the law; psychiatrists give conclusory opinions. Proposed solutions to these criticisms are analyzed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony
  • Forensic Psychiatry / history*
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense / history
  • Public Opinion
  • United Kingdom
  • United States