‘Mental Illness’

Forensics, Schools and Election Year

nicholas cruz murders kids

Even numbered years are usually election years, and 2018 is no exception. Among other offices under consideration this year are several openings in Parkland school board in Broward County. School board elections are not usually so heated, but this one reflects the emotional atmosphere left by the Parkland school shooting. A Little Background On February 14, 2018, troubled 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire in a high school in Parkland, Florida. Before his shooting spree was over, he murdered seventeen people and wounded seventeen others. When he was done, he calmly ditched the gun and blended in with the students as they left the school. He then went to Walmart and purchased a soda from the Subway there, then went on to McDonald’s where he purchased food. He was subsequently arrested in the Coral Springs district, having been identified from the school surveillance tapes and eye-witnesses. He has since confessed. Aftermath Although school shootings have occurred in frightening numbers since 1999 despite tightened school security, they are still occurring. The Parkland shooting was so horrific that a $75,000 grant for bereavement counseling was given to the community. It… Read More

Can You Use Kleptomania as a Defense For Shoplifting?

shoplifting and kleptomania as a defense in a criminal case

Can a person who is caught shoplifting claim temporary insanity by virtue of being kleptomaniac? Is kleptomania a good defense? Kleptomania is a medically recognized psychological disorder. It is an impulse control disorder that ultimately results in those afflicted having the uncontrollable urge to steal other people’s property. The kleptomaniac, unlike the routine shoplifter, does not typically steal for personal gain. This therefore begs the question, if people accused of more serious crimes committed due to a mental disorder can get away with an insanity plea, why can’t a shoplifter use kleptomania as defense? Why not send the accused to a mental health aid program rather than face the consequences of the law if the act was performed under uncontrollable circumstances? Well, it all depends on the law or the state of jurisdiction. In states that follow the M’Nagthen rule, proving kleptomania is no defense. Under the rule, insanity can only be proved by showing that you had a mental defect that prevented you from knowing the exact nature and consequences of your actions. A kleptomaniac is fully aware of what he or she is doing while… Read More

Application of Forensic Psychology to the Criminal Justice System

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Forensic psychology has over the years played a key role in the legal field of criminal justice. To fully appreciate how this field of psychology affects criminal justice, it is important to first understand what it is and how it is applied in court cases. Definition of Forensic Psychology Forensic psychology is a unique combination of medical psychology and criminal justice. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines forensic psychology as the use of clinical specialties in the legal system. A forensic psychologist applies psychological principles, data, research, and theory to provide an explanation for criminal acts and behavior. The practice helps to determine whether an accused person should be convicted or pardoned for his or her actions. Chapter 490 of Florida statutes, aptly titled Psychological Services, provides a basis for the application of forensic psychology in the criminal justice system in an increasingly complex society where emotional survival plays a key role in human behavior. How is it Different From Clinical Evaluation? Forensic psychology and clinical assessment follow the same the same procedures of evaluation but differ in the way each field is practiced. A person who… Read More

Deep Connection Between Terrorism and the Criminal Personality

Deep Connection Between Terrorism and the Criminal Personality | Broward criminal lawyer Kenneth Padowitz

The Wide Scope of Terrorism Terrorism to the average Joe takes a racial and ethnic dimension. Technically, though this is a misrepresentation and terrorism is far more expansive. According to the U.S. Code, terrorism, regardless of its form refers to acts with intent to coerce or intimidate a civilian population. Going by this definition, most criminals operate as terrorists. The victims they terrorize may be as specific as one person or as widespread as an entire country. Terrorism takes different forms. A man guy battering his wife is a terrorist as the wife feels desperate, trapped, threatened, and intimidated. In 2002, John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo terrorized the population a large swath of the US stretching from Baltimore to Richmond. Their chose act of terrorism was random sniper takedown of complete civilian strangers. Their spate resulted in 10 fatalities and 3 people wounded. Residents cowered in fear based on the uncertainty of who was next on the makeshift hit list. Walking Down Memory Lane Therefore, there exists a deep-seated relationship between terrorism and the criminal personality. In fact, it appears that the criminal personality feeds off… Read More

Delusions and the Social World: The Connection

truman show delusion | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

Has there ever been a society where deluded individuals did not exist? – The answer is probably no. At one time or another, virtually every psychiatric hospital of decent size had their hands full with people who thought they were Jesus Christ or spies for either of two cold-warring intelligence agencies—CIA or KGB. Today, the mix is evolving. We now have quite a lot of individuals who think they are reality TV stars—the Kardashians in the psych wards so to speak. For these individuals, the whole package is present—directors, camera crews, and the audience. Except of course, the pros are out of sight. Thing is, the phenomenon is not restricted to those who end in the psych wards. More people than you’d realize exhibit the phenomenon, only not so dire that they need special psychiatric evaluation. Mild as it may appear; a public clinic psychiatrist in London estimated that one or two in every 10 patients he examined have had the sensation of being filmed. The phenomenon is commonly called the Truman Show Delusion and interestingly the population most affected is the young. The colloquial name for… Read More

The courts take a jab at civil detention practices: What about professionals?

civil commitment | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

The trend in the courts In the last three months, two consecutive court decisions have deemed the civil commitment program to be unconstitutional. Which is insightful because 20 states and the federal government uphold some form of the civil commitment laws also called “SVP” laws. To put it simply, the laws permit authorities to confine indefinitely, sex offenders expertly assessed to have mental diagnosis that makes them more likely to engage in future sexual violence. In retrospect, the laws have had several dates with controversies from day one. Almost everything about the laws, related processes, and subsequent programs spark debates. In fact, the US Supreme Court decision permitting civil commitment to exist narrowly passed by a lone vote. Now, the debates are increasingly tilting towards a consensus, at least in the courts, that civil commitment as currently practiced in many regions is unconstitutional and needs to be worked on to check widespread abuses. What the stats say The reality is that ‘indefinite’ is a very long time, and in one of the cases where the court had to censure civil commitment, the treatment program had ran for… Read More

Emotional Extremes Of A Criminal Not Necessarily An Emotional Disorder

A lot of criminals or social offenders are characterized by quick changes in their moods, from extremely high to extremely low. These changes in moods can happen frequently — even within a single day of a criminal’s life. He or she may appear to be elated at one time, feeling that he or she is in control, but in a short span of time, will just snap out of it and become sad and bad-tempered. These quick changes in moods may be seen by others as an emotional disorder that needs medical attention. Realistically speaking, if a professional were to look into a criminal’s mind, he or she will soon determine that a criminal’s quickly changing moods may really because of his or her unrealistic expectations of the people around him or her and of himself or herself. Offenders commit such mistakes of setting improper expectations and when he or she commits crimes, it is because he or she thinks there is something wrong with other people, not with himself or herself. He or she expects other people to behave the way he or she expects them… Read More

Should We Be More Concerned With Prenatal Exposure In The Prevention Of Crime?

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Crime and violence has existed throughout human history, and the search for answers as to what causes such behavior has lead to a variety of proposed theories. Criminal behavior is often associated with a variety of social and environmental risk factors that people are exposed to throughout life; lack of education, unstable family life and poverty are some of the most common examples. According to this perspective, crime is a result of a combination of these risk factors that people are exposed to in their lifetime. The purpose of this post is to explore another perspective, which emphasizes the role prenatal exposure to environmental and biological substances plays in the development of criminal behavior later in life. The effects of lead exposure, and maternal and second-hand smoking will be discussed, along with statistics as they relate to the topic. Additionally, the evolutionary neuroandrogenic theory, which suggests a link between prenatal androgen exposure and criminal behavior, will be examined. The goal of this post is to highlight the complexity of crime, and to help illustrate why one particular theory alone is not sufficient in determining the origin of… Read More

Study Review: Borderline Personality Disorder and Social-Cognitive Deficits

Those afflicted with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are characterized with a variety of cognitive and emotional deficits seen throughout life regarding the regulation of emotions, impulsivity, and maladaptive images of self and others. This often leads to a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. Early life trauma and genetics are theorized to play major roles in the development of this condition. Up until recently, research has mostly been focused on the neurophysiological abnormalities that may play a role in the disorder, particularly in the amygdala, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex, all of which are thought to be involved in emotional and affective processing, and the regulation responses to stress. The purpose of this post is to review a study called “Dysregulation between emotion and theory of mind networks in borderline personality disorder”. Rather than strictly look at the physiological aspects of borderline personality disorder, researchers O’Neill and colleagues instead focus on the potential social-cognitive deficits, including mentalization and theory of mind, while also observing any differences in functional connectivity within the neural networks. Mentalization refers to the process in which people internally and externally interpret the actions of… Read More

Hare’s Idea of a Psychopath

Robert Hare Psychopathy

What Is A Psychopath? Psychopath is a term used to describe a person with a certain cluster of psychological, interpersonal, and neurophysiological traits, distinguishing them from the rest of the population. Robert Hare, an expert in psychopathy, describes these individuals as: “…social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and empathy, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of regret. Hare also separated psychopaths into three distinct categories: the primary psychopath, the neurotic psychopath (also known as secondary), and the dyssocial psychopath. What is a Primary Psychopath? According to Hare, the primary psychopath is the “true” psychopath; secondary and dyssocial psychopaths have little in common physiologically with that of a primary psychopath. A primary psychopath has certain cognitive, psychological, emotional, and neurophysiological differences that separate them from the other types of psychopaths, and the general public. These individuals are believed to be charming, and are often above average in intelligence. Genetics is believed to… Read More