Monstrous Crimes and the Failure of Forensic Psychiatry
Monsters and predators frighten, entertain, and disgust us. The idea of a creature that is a volatile mixture of human and animal parts (the monster) triggers our visual and visceral imagination perhaps more than any other image. The fear of predation -literally, eating another’s flesh – disgusts and repels, but like rubberneckers who slow down to witness accidents, our voyeurism seems unconstrained by shame.
The monster and the predator threaten us by threatening to rend the social fabric and bring about a state of nature in which, as Hobbes famously wrote, we are engaged in a war of all against all, and life is nasty, brutish and short. We demand that the government and its legal process protect us from the monsters and predators in our midst, which has resulted in a quest for security at the expense of the protection of the rights of citizens that runs parallel with the quest for protection from “terrorists,” as reflected in the epigram to this book.
The referent of the “terrorist,” however, is often simply somebody who looks, acts, or talks in a way that is vaguely Middle-Eastern. Similarly, people who look, act, or talk like our vaguely sketched stereotype of what constitutes a sex offender, an image that has come to constitute a monstrous predator, trigger a panic as well (Lancaster 2011a, b).
When we use the metaphor of the monster or predator to represent human beings, we devalue human beings; we “dehumanize” them, thereby reducing cognitive dissonance when we deprive them of the rights to which they would be entitled if they were regarded as fully human. Sometimes we treat as monsters people we later come to believe should not have been dehumanized, such as slaves, gays, Jews, and so on. Our ancestors, we think, should not have treated these persons as monsters.
But in other instances of dehumanization by metaphor, the process of dehumanization seems less unjust: terrorists, child sexual abusers, serial murderers, and rapists are among the people often considered worthy of such categorization as monsters or predators (Smith 2011). It is the purpose of this book to explain why such dehumanization is neither morally supportable in the case of sex offenders, nor, from a public health point of view, compatible with our standard public health policies. This book will also examine the moral culpability of one important legal actor in using the law to treat this class of persons as monsters: the forensic psychiatrist.
Monsters are ubiquitous in modem culture. They transform the mundane and ordinary into something marvelous. Baudelaire put it well: “Nature is ugly and I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial” (Baudelaire 1957, 1988). In this, monsters perform a function similar to art: the transformation of the everyday. Therein lay both their value and their danger as metaphor. Ordinary ugliness, if named monstrous, becomes extraordinary. But the monster seems to be a nearly biological category, and to that extent appears immutable.
Historically, the monstrous birth is a real medical condition recognized as innate in most, if not all, cultures. Responses to the literal biological monster, the prototype of which is probably the Siamese Twin, has a long history spanning several centuries of scientific and political development. Feminist theorists have opined that the trope of monstrousness has had close connections with pregnancy because, historically, “monstrous births” were products of a powerful maternal imagination (Betterton 2006, 81).
We will touch on the idea of the “monstrous mother” in Chap. 5. The important point here is that the idea of the monstrous birth may be both literal and metaphoric. As a biological product, a monster is symbolic of the intricacies of conception and reproduction, and the many ways in which the process can be subverted. As a cultural product, a monster is the creation of political, religious, economic, and social forces, symbolic of whatever meanings have power at a particular point in time….
1 Monstrous Crimes, Framing, and the Preventive State: The Moral Failure of Forensic Psychiatry
1.2 Frames, Metaphor, and Cognition
1.3 Monsters and Monstrous Crimes
1.4 Psychopathy: The Monstrous Brain
2 Scxual Predator Laws: A Gothic Narrative
2.1 Law, Morality, and Emotion in American Law
2.2 The Monster Among Us: The Social Context of Revulsion
2.3 Sexually Violent Predator Acts
2.4 Megan’s Law
2.4.1 Stories of Abjection: The “yuck” Factor
2.5 Becoming a Public Problem
3 Metaphor, Framing, and Reasoning
3.1 Metaphor as Productive Cognitive Tool
3.2 Metaphorical Images: Emblematic Compression
3.3 Framing and Meaning
3.4 Thinking with Metaphors: Pretend Play and the False Belief Task
3.5 Dead Metaphors are Powerful Metaphors
4 Monsters, Norms and Making Up People
4.1 Monster as Physical Abnormality
4.2 Monster as Social Symbol
4.3 “Making Up People” – The Monster Within
4.4 Scapegoats and the Social Utility of Outsiders
4.5 The Monster as Sexual Deviant
5 The Scx Offender: A New Folk Devil
5.1 Moral Panic
5.2 Witchcraft and “Satanic Panic”
5.3 The Child Scxual Murderer
6 The Child Scx Abuser
6.1 Child Abuse as a Public Problem
6.2 The Sex Offender Kind
6.3 The Ambiguity of “Normal”
7 The Mask of Objectivity: Digital Imaging and Psychopathy
7.1 The Moral Monster Within
7.2 DSM-IV-TR: A Floating Taxonomy
7.2.1 SVPA Psychiatric Reports: The Forensic Context of the DSM-IV-TR
7.3 Psychopathy: The Mask of Sanity
7.4 fMRI: Localizing the Monster
7.5 The Monstrous Crime and the Monstrous Brain
7.5.1 Maps, Atlases, and Distinguishing the Normal from the Abnormal
7.6 Abnormal Brains
7.6.1 Expert Testimony: The Mask of Objectivity
7.6.2 Scx Offenders as Psychopaths
8 Forensic Psychiatric Testimony: Ethical Issues
8.1 A Prima Facie Moral Dilemma
8.2 Ethics Subverted: The Shifting Terrain of Forensic Psychiatry
8.3 Do Forensic Psychiatrists Possess a Body of Well-Grounded Knowledge?
8.4 Are Forensic Psychiatrists Biased?
8.5 Why Even the Best Forensic Psychiatrists Are at Moral Risk
8.6 The Basis for Moral Evaluation: Principles, Narratives, Social Context
8.7 Stories and Narratives
8.8 Monsters, Strangers, and Social Order: Forensic Psychiatrists as Moral Police
8.9 The Monstrous Brain: Science or Science Fiction?
9 Public Health Approach to Scxual Abuse
9.1 Public Health and Scxual Violence Prevention
9.2 Public Health Law: Brief Introduction
9.3 Biological and Personal Narratives: The Individual Level
9.4 Interpersonal Relationships: The Social Context
9.5 Environmental Factors: The Community Risk Level
9.6 Cultural Beliefs, Norms, and Inequities: Societal Risk Factors
9.7 Public Health and Research
9.8 Minimax Strategy: Designed to Protect Us from Monsters
9.9 Likelihood of Risk
9.10 Magnitude of Harm
9.11 Epidemiological Criminology
9.11.1 Shaming and Blaming via Disgust: Why “Hot” Preventive Measures Fail
9.11.2 Situational Factors in Crime Prevention
9.12 Reentry: A Fundamental Problem
10 Conclusion: A Criminological Paradigm Shift
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