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Whores of the Court

The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice

By
Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D.
1997

Reviewed by Mira de Vries

Quiz Questions:
  1. In what field did the author earn the letters she proudly displays behind her name?
  2. What does she do for a living?
  3. How much does she earn and who pays it?
If you wish, you're allowed to read this review, and even the book, before answering.

Hagen maintains the belligerent tone of the title and subtitle throughout her book, hissing and sizzling and inflating the text with epithets. That is a pity, because the unprofessional presentation of her quite valid arguments detracts from them.

What Hagen tells us is that the fields of psychology and psychiatry are scams. The so-called research done in these fields does not meet scientific criteria such as being repeatable, challengeable and refutable. It isn't possible to do scientific research in these fields because the factors affecting human behavior are too infinitely many and unknowable, let alone controllable. The Diagnostic Manual is baseless. Degrees people earn in these fields are not awarded to them for demonstrating skills or knowledge of facts, but rather for their having successfully memorized the beliefs held by others in the field. Often these beliefs are based on a single anecdotal case, with the supposed conclusions subsequently generalized to millions of people. We do not even know how normal people's minds work, let alone the minds of people who display deviant behavior. Definitions in this field are so fluid as to be useless. The information gathered is uncorroborated and the tests employed are based entirely on self-reporting. "Graduate and professional training programs ... fail because the task they have set for themselves is impossible." Psychological treatments have never been proven effective. No valid body of knowledge exists on which practitioners or "expert witnesses" can base their claims, nor can they be held accountable when they utter spectacular nonsense. When it comes to predicting future behavior, lay people consistently score higher than professionals. Psychologists and psychiatrists are employed by courts to help ease the judges' burden of making difficult judgments; and by government benefit programs as gatekeepers because somebody has to do the gate-keeping and we like to believe that these professionals are equipped to do it even though they are not. Millions of the taxpayers' dollars are wasted on these scam professionals.

All of this is true and cannot be said too often. But none of it is new, having been said decades earlier, mainly by Thomas Szasz, whom she does not mention anywhere in the book. She also does not mention compulsory civil commitment and compulsory treatment by these same sham professionals, and the incredible harm they do to the health of their victims, in addition to the injustice of depriving them of their liberty while they have been convicted of no crime.

Along the way Hagen slips in some of her political views. She is not opposed to government charity such as welfare and disability benefits, but feels the gatekeepers should be ordinary people, like a lay jury. This indeed would probably be a lot cheaper and no less fair, but no more fair either. The reality is that there just is no fair way to gatekeep government benefits.

Hagen furthermore apparently resents the success and power of white males, prompting her to make silly statements like, "... the workplace ... run by powerful white males ..." Obviously the workplace is run by somebody powerful, but how would she know the sex and color of the person who runs my workplace, and on what does she base her suggestion that someone of a different sex/color would do it differently?

Now, do you remember the Quiz Questions? Here they are again, with the answers:
  1. In what field did the author earn the letters she proudly displays behind her name? According to the back flap of the dust cover, in developmental psychology, whatever that is.
  2. What does she do for a living? Again according to the back flap, she teaches, presumably in the field of her Ph.D.
  3. How much does she earn and who pays it? On this the back flap reveals nothing, but it would not surprise me that she makes a comfortable living, financed by the taxpayer.
Hagen justifies her own degree and employment as being like astronomy is to astrology. This is not a valid comparison. Astrologers are not presumed to have studied the work of astronomers. A more valid comparison would be as medical researchers are to physicians. The former do the research, the latter study that research and apply it, in theory anyway. Szasz uses his credentials and career for blowing the whistle, Hagen doesn't. This is her only publication of this kind.

This book was, in her own words, "... inspired by that most banal and most questionable of motives -- personal outrage." She is angry that her older brother was sued in a civil case alleging psychological injury. He won, but his defense set him back $90,000. Her motive to settle the score with the psychologist who testified on behalf of the plaintiff is reflected not only in the tone of her language, but also in the frequent quotations from her brother's trial throughout the book.

I hope Hagen someday returns to this subject and writes a better book, making her excellent points in a more appropriate way.

An online PDF version of the book minus the introduction is available for free here.

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