Art on Trial: Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases by David E. Gussak

By David E. Gussak

A guy kidnaps his kids, murders one, and makes an attempt to kill the opposite. The prosecution seeks the demise penalty, whereas the safety employs an strange technique to stay away from the sentence. The defendant's legal professionals flip to greater than a hundred examples of his art, created over a long time, to figure out even if he used to be mentally unwell on the time he devoted the crimes. Detailing a superb instance of using forensic artwork remedy in a capital homicide case, David Gussak, an artwork therapist shriveled via the protection to investigate the pictures that have been to be provided as proof, recounts his findings and his testimony in court docket, in addition to the longer term implications of his paintings for legal proceedings.

Gussak describes the position of the artwork therapist as knowledgeable witness in a homicide case, the right way to use paintings as facts, and the conclusions and tests that execs can draw from a defendant's works of art. He examines the effectiveness of specialist testimony as communicated by way of the prosecution, security, and court docket, and weighs the ethical, moral, and criminal outcomes of hoping on such facts. For pros and basic readers, this gripping quantity provides a powerful account of the power of artwork to mirror a broken and hazardous psyche. a number one textual content on an rising box, Art on Trial demonstrates the sensible functions of an leading edge method of scientific overview and treatment.

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Perhaps sensing that the reputation of the medical profession had already been damaged by reports that the murderer possessed some anatomical knowledge, within days the prominent British medical journal the Lancet attacked Baxter’s theory, dismissing it as absurd. The press, however, did not dismiss the story out of hand, perhaps because of their dim view of doctors, but also because the story of an unscrupulous, acquisitive American resonated with the British public. 12 The letter created a sensation not only because the phantom murderer now had a self-appointed name (assuming that the letter was actually written by the killer), but also because what the London Times described as the “brutal character” of the letter’s language was “full of Americanisms” (such as “Dear Boss,” “fix me,” and “shant quit”).

And yet even this rule has exceptions. As Elliott Leyton has argued, “No one ever became famous by beating his wife to death in an alley; but virtually all our multiple murderers achieve true and lasting fame . . During their trials, they will almost certainly be surrounded by admiring women who impress their affections upon the killer, radiating towards him little but admiration and love” (21–22). Even during the crimes themselves, some serial killers have felt and been influenced by the public’s fascinated interest in them.

As Stathis Gourgouris has pointed out, “If American society is paradigmatically founded on the primacy of law [the Bill of Rights], it is also co-incidentally founded on the phantasmatic allure of the outlaw—the Wild West, the frontier, and so on: the errant loner who forges his own rights, in some improvisational fashion, as he goes along” (135, original emphasis). K. Corral with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but any reader of Cormac MacCarthy’s classic novel Blood Meridian will know that the realization of “manifest destiny” was, if anything, more violent and bloody than serial murder could ever be.

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