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AfroDaddy, “The Black Man’s Survival Guide,” picked up my Psychology Today review of The Protest Psychosis: How the Black Man Became Schizophrenic: Once upon a time, a strange thing happened at the Ionia State Hospital in Michigan: A diagnosis of schizophrenia exited the body of a white housewife, flew across the hospital, and landed on

Crazy Like Us

Journalist Ethan Watters masterfully evokes the heady admixture of moral certainty and profit motive that drives U.S. clinicians and pharmaceutical companies as they evangelically push Western psychiatry around the globe. Amazon review Reading Crazy Like Us left me with a nightmare image of a homogeneous future world with McDonald’s and Starbucks on every corner, obesity

Competency: Online resources

The competency training page showcases legal cases with publicly available teaching tools, most of them free and online. Resources include reports, videos and transcripts of hearings and evaluations. Featured cases include: Competency Cases Online Theodore Kaczynski Colin Ferguson Ralph Tortorici Scott Panetti Mike Tyson Steven Hayes John Salvi III José Padilla Thomas A. Shay Lynette

Jose Padilla

José Padilla, the suspected “dirty bomber,” was detained for almost four years in a military prison as an “enemy combatant.” His attorneys claimed that during those years he was tortured, subjected to stress positions and forced hypothermia, and administered mind-altering drugs. They argued that as a result of his torture, he suffered from posttraumatic stress

John Salvi

John Salvi III carried out two fatal attacks on Massachusetts abortion clinics in 1994. Prior to his trial, a four-day competency hearing was held. Three experts, including Dr. Phillip Resnick, testified for the defense, saying that Salvi was mentally ill and obsessed with an “international conspiracy” against Catholics. The prosecution’s expert, Dr. Joel Haycock, who

Steven Hayes

Only a small proportion of defendants referred for evaluation are found incompetent to stand trial. Most are floridly psychotic. It is a rare defendant who is found incompetent on the basis of depression, no matter how severe. Attorneys declared a doubt as to Steven Hayes’ competency when the suicidal defendant declined to participate in jury

Mike Tyson

There are many types of competency outside of the criminal arena. Indeed, in some professions — law enforcement, medicine and commercial aviation, among others — one must also be fit (or competent) to practice. In 1998, at the behest of the Nevada Athletic Commission, Mike Tyson underwent a series of evaluations to determine whether he

Scott Panetti

Although competency to stand trial is the most commonly assessed competency in the criminal arena, competency to be executed is another type. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is cruel and unusual punishment to execute someone who does not understand why he is being put to death. Scott Panetti, a Texas man with

Ralph Tortorici

The case of Ralph Tortorici provides another classic example of what happens when an incompetent defendant is allowed to stand trial. Tortorici was psychotic in 1994 when he injured a fellow student during a hostage takeover at the State University of New York. He underwent competency restoration treatment and was eventually deemed competent to stand

Colin Ferguson

Colin Ferguson, on trial for his Long Island Railroad massacre, rejected the insanity defense proposed by his attorneys. After a report from a court-appointed psychiatrist, the trial judge found Ferguson competent to stand trial and allowed him to represent himself. [Note that this outcome may have been different today, in light of the U.S. Supreme