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     Dr. Karl Menninger - Isaac Ray Lecture, The Relationship Between the Legal
    and the Psychiatric Professions
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Ladies and gentlemen, it's my privilege to welcome you here this evening in behalf of Columbia University and its School of Law and Department of Psychiatry. We in the University are pleased indeed to have the privilege extended to us of sponsoring this 10th Isaac Gray Lectorship of the American Psychiatric Association. This evening we have with us the Chairman of the Isaac Gray Lectorship Award of that Association. For many years Dr. Manfred Gutmacher has been attached to the Supreme Bench of Baltimore as his chief medical officer. His psychiatric knowledge coupled with his vast experience connected with those who have become before that bench, which he has
shared with his colleagues in the public through many publications, which may be known to you, have placed him quite naturally in the strategic and commanding position to convey the judgment of the Isaac Gray Committee and to introduce to you the man elected to give the 10th Lecture, Dr. Gutmacher. Thank you very much, Dr. Cobb. The Isaac Gray Award is named after a rather remarkable, quite phenomenal man, who as a young practitioner in Maine wrote a medical treatise, which is one of the classics in medicine, called the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity. This was published in 1838. Fortunately, the Harvard
University Press has brought out an edition this last year of that classic. I think many of you would be very interested to see what a really phenomenal job it was for a young man with relatively little experience with the law. The ideas that he promulgated are still ideas that are nascent and are still merely in the stage of ideas. So that when the American Psychiatric Association was anxious to cement further the relationship of law and psychiatry, it was only natural that Isaac Gray would be the individual honored. And I must say that the Isaac Gray Award is tonight being honored by the fact that we have, as our Isaac Gray Award winner and the speaker at this meeting, one of the great figures in American
psychiatry. Due to his great ability and his amazing energy, he has made significant contributions to almost every phase of psychiatry. And I shall, in my brief remarks, confine myself to those activities which have had a direct relationship to legal psychiatry. As I have commented no and admire Carl Meninger, both the man and his works, I have concluded that throughout his professional life, his chief interest and concern had been with man's inhumanity toward his fellows and man's inhumanity toward himself, so that his concern with a criminal offender dates back to the very beginnings of his career in psychiatry. Thirty-eight years ago, he presented a paper before the National Conference of Social Work entitled, Psychiatry and the Prisoner. The following year, he had a paper in the
Survey Graphic Entitled Vengeance or Vision. I could continue listing Carl's insistent pleas for more humane and effective ways of dealing with society's malfactors until I should get to his brilliantly provocative article in Harper's, not very long ago, called Verdict Guilty, Now What? But it is not only the field of the vitally important public education that he has made outstanding contribution to the legal psychiatry. Many thought from stimulating technical articles have appeared under his name. I should like to mention two papers, one dealing with temporary insanity published with Dr. Maiman, called Episodic Discontrol, a third order of stress adaptation, and a paper murder without a parent motive, a study in personality disorganization. This year's Isaac Ray Award winner has had
many notable posts in the field of legal psychiatry. In 1926 to 27, he was chairman of a joint committee of the American Psychiatric and the American Bar Association that issued a report that today could serve as the goal toward which the professions should strive. In 1922, he was appointed a professor of criminology, abnormal psychiatry, and mental hygiene at Washburn College. Since 1955, he has been consultant to the Medical Center of a Federal Prisoners' Springfield, Missouri. He is on the editorial board of the Arcars of Criminal Psychodynamics. He is a member of the advisory board of the American League to abolish capital punishment and a director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Karl Meninger's dynamic energy and its dedication to his task is constantly bearing fruit. In 1960, the Department
of Social Psychiatry at the Meninger Foundation established a division of law and psychiatry. Last year, the state of Kansas opened in Topeka, the Diagnostic and Reception Center for the evaluation of convicted criminals. Needless to say, Dr. Meninger was a leading spirit in the planning and creation of both of these enterprises. Karl Meninger's acceptance of the Isaac Ray Award adds significantly to its importance and its distinction. I might say that one of the things that will be evident tonight is the fearless critic that we have before us, but he is unlike some critics. I recently have been given the task of reviewing a book by a psychiatrist called Law, Liberty and Psychiatry, which McMillan is bringing out. And the author there is constantly tearing down and deriding
psychiatry and law and making no constructive suggestions, although our speaker is a fearless critic. He is also a builder, and I think it's in this sense that we take great pleasure in honoring him. Thank you. Mr. Gold and Dr. Goodmocker, ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid you've been led to expect too much by these kind words from my old friends, but this is a milestone in my life. It's an honor that I've been most proud to fill. As you know, it's come in three parts. This
is only the first third of it. It required the systematizing some ideas that have until now been less clearly organized in my mind. And that took some work, and perhaps I deplored that necessity, but I clouded on it. And I'm going to tell you, as I am supposed to, some of my own reflections on the subject of the relations between legal profession and the medical profession. The Isaac Ray Award was set up, and I understand it, to help
the lawyers and the doctors to cooperate better in helping the public regarding something which neither one of them claim as their primary interest. Lawyers say, well, crime is a small part of the law. And the doctors say, well, we have plenty of well-behaving patients. Why should we get too concerned with those that seem to be bound on trouble or trouble? The stipulation of the award is that it be given in university, where there's both a law school and a medical school. So the assumption, my assumption has to be that there are some law students here tonight and some medical students, but unless Columbia is doing a great deal of adult education that I didn't know about, I think there must be a few others.
All right, I'd like to know, how many here are law students or young lawyers? Do you hold up your hands? But we have almost a dozen, which is quite a lot. And then how many are medical students or young physicians? We have quite a lot of them, too, at least a dozen. Well, now some of you are really objective and don't rely on yourselves with either the law or medicine, but some of you are aligned with medicine, perhaps your physicians or surgeons, or nurses. How many here have some connection with medicine or with medical science? That's quite a lot. I guess about a hundred or more. And how many with the law or with law enforcement or with phenology? Well, let's say with welfare work generally,
too. Well, now I have some idea about you. You heard all about me, so we're coining. You know, it's the option of a speaker to entertain his audience with pleasant words and graceful phrases and rousing pleasant memories, perhaps, or some aesthetic pictures and fantasy, or to arouse in them the less pleasant emotions associated with doubt, perplexity, alarm or indignation. His temptation is merely to amuse the audience. His greatest fear being that he might bore it. A great many sensible things have been said about the cooperative
relations of law and medicine. A great many sensible things and the reverse have been said about crime and what ought to be done about it. I suppose one thing about which everyone would agree is that crime is an unsolved social problem, a social evil. If we had made as much progress in handling crime as we have in dealing with gravity, for example, we've gotten as far in phenology as we have in aviation or transportation generally, maybe a much better system we would have today for our own protection of our own homes and friends and selves. We all agree that it's a social problem. And great many suggestions have been made as to how we should improve it. But as you know, not much change occurs.
Later I will give you some statistics, but to focus your attention on the problem, I will describe a few cases that I have seen recently. Now I've gotten to this point in my manuscript. Well, no, I've gone further. I had the cases. I could read them. While I was preparing these illustrations about our inadequate management of the crime problem in the nation, the radio brought news that was too terrible and too pertinent and too significant and too big for me to go on with any of the little instances of crime that I had originally
selected. And before I could reconstruct my thinking and make a proper use of the events, another policeman had been killed, an alleged killer arrested and brought forth bravely by the officers of the law to face television cameras, radio microphones, and a loaded revolver in the hands of another self-appointed corrector of our legal system. Surely we do not need more evidence and we already possess that our present understanding of and management of and control of violence and the violent impulse in human beings is not very good. All this could be said without any reference to a prevalent attitude or spirit of violence that seems to prevail. No one plays particularly. The people that spit in other, the Invisitors
faces and the people that shriek in her lapithets at school children, the parents that beat their, break the bones of their little babies because they cry and all the other things that you know are going on have gone on in the past few days and will go on again tomorrow. All this is to say nothing like why the organized business of crime about which we recently heard in Expose only television, not just a accidental or incidental or relatively low class type of crime but big business crime. Crime that involves millions, crime that is systematically organized, crime that is handled in a way which should take them far beyond
the concerns of welfare workers and psychiatrists and policemen, crime that's really a way of life at high economic level. I'd like to distinguish if I may between the members of the organized business of crime and those little criminals which occupy the attention of the police and of the welfare departments of a psychiatrist and of others. The people who fill the jails and who fill the court dockets, the people who are really to take into the task for what they do, who are captured and who are in our hands temporarily but who subsequent disposition leaves something I think to be desired.
These things thrive in these things, I mean this attitude of expressing one's emotions, one's violent emotions seem to be encouraged by a general feeling of laissez-faire, this is freedom, this is what one may do, one may express himself and so on. Of course nobody ever said that we could express ourselves as much as we like. Well with the rapid population growth of the country and many other sociological aspects of it that I don't understand seems to me that I perceive an increase in the sense of permissiveness but the regard to the expression
of violence. Now this could be an illusion, I shall return to it later in the talk because I'm not here attributing all crime to this, I only suggest that we perceive a good deal of it, we feel unsafe in places we used to feel safe. I spoke to some policemen in the city within some months past and they said look even we policemen are afraid of some things you know nowadays and I don't think people know that really how much danger surrounds them all the time and they put their confidence in measures which are really not protecting them. I should come back to that presently. I just wanted to get you
to agree with me to begin with the things that need something done about them. Now as a matter of fact a psychiatrist has some experience with people from whom violence comes unpredictably or predictably we are dealing with violent people or people who may be violent and of course of our daily practices people are trying to control their violence and who know this about themselves whereas some healthy minded people don't know how violent they are most of our patients do and so they maybe psychiatrists should have some opinion as to how to better protect the public. Now that was not a new idea. Isaac Ray made some excellent suggestions and that was 100 years ago. Nobody took them seriously. A few people in his own state did. One of the instances where a man in his own country was honored but not generally not nationally. A few years later the, let me see I want to put these
in order. I think some 75 years ago the first Congress on Corrections that was in 1870 formulated 22 principles which were all perfectly sound none of which have ever been really put into effect but which are just as good today as they were then. 50 years ago no progress having been made. The famous Wickersham survey was made in this state a very fine survey. Wickersham report, Wickersham survey committee recommended a whole lot of excellent things. I won't read them all. All prisoners should be sent to clearing houses for a diagnosis of their complex disorders for classification and should be confined and specialized units
of a diversified institutionalized system. Sentences should all be truly indeterminate and so forth. Well you know what happened. Nothing happened to that. And little bit later the New York State Crime Commission made another series of recommendations. I have the years on these but that's boring. It was a long time ago that the jury should determine only the guilt or innocence of the person on trial and that after the jury had returned a verdict of guilt the power of imposing sentence should be taken from the judge who presided at the trial and given to a special state board created by a constitutional amendment. Remember the board should include legal experts, psychiatrists and panologists devoting their entire time to the work and so forth. These were excellent recommendations. Of course none of them were taken. 1920 or 24th I think it was. A special committee was appointed by the American Psychiatric Association because we psychiatrists were very embarrassed at what
we what was described as the humiliating and demoralizing public and public impression. We didn't say public, public image in those days. That's what we meant. We didn't have that such nice language. We just said the bad impression which is being created by psychiatrists quarreling in court if the prisoner had some enough money to hire them. Of course the prisoner's poor goes jail as the end of it. But if he has some money then some psychiatrists examine it. And for heaven's sake the psychiatrists all find funny things about him. And that's just because he's rich. And that's because it pays them to defend these prisoners in court. Of course that's not true either but then we'll wave that point. Now the recommendations may be where they made by the American Psychiatric Association were pretty good. I think I wrote them and I wrote them at the dictation of a very wise
older man who were on my committee. William Owlinson White appointed a committee on our association to try to get somewhat better, get somewhat clearer statement of what psychiatrists did believe about this crime business. He did a characteristic William Owlinson white thing. White was one of our great psychiatrists in many ways. And he did this. He said I'm going to put a youngster at chairman of this committee and it was nothing about it because the rest of you're also prejudiced by your past experiences that you just balled it all up and say the same old things. It made me chairman and I knew nothing about this but fortunately all the other members on the committee were twice my age and they told me what was wrong with the thing that I wrote it up. I think it was good. We recommended Dr. Goodmarker was kind enough to say and very pretty good things but none of them took. We the American Psychiatric Association unanimously
adopted them. Then I went to the American Medical Association which took a little doing because they're bigger and not much interested in it but after numerous meetings with the American Medical Association we got them to agree that this was a good thing to do. Then we went to the American Bar Association and that was still harder. The American Bar Association people considered it and we finally agreed to meet all three of us meet and joint committees and so on and after several years we all unanimously adopted these principles. I'm not going to read them to you. We've got none of them wherever adopted. Outside of us. I mean we all agreed that this was the way it should be. It should all be changed and the crime situation wasn't fair for the public to go on with the present ridiculous mismanagement and that this could be greatly benefited if we do some of these things that Isaac Ray suggested and that Wickersham suggested and that the American
correction was that people had suggested and that the New York crime commission had suggested. Then there was a St. Louis crime commission I believe wasn't it Dr. Goodmacher which was another famous one. I forgot to include it and then there was the all advice that everybody agrees nobody does anything. The stage just as it was nothing happens nothing changes. At the level of the day of the average county court just the criminal court the average the level of the county jail and the level of the state penitentiary in the main not all of them. With a few brilliant brilliant exceptions like Patukson in Maryland and some of the things that Dr. Judge Cross have been able to do in your city and some of the things that Dick McGay or Abel Richard McGee has been able to do I mean in California some of these things are outstanding but for the most part the level of the operational force none of these principles are known they're not used they're
not a spouse they're not believed in they're regarded as ridiculous if they've even heard of of psychiatrists are referred to as head shrinkers which is I don't know that's particularly uncomplimentary I don't know what it means exactly but they pointed what the psychiatrist has in mind to do with the person completely unknown to them they've heard somewhere that psychiatrists try to get people out of the out of punishment they psychiatrists are sorry for criminals because they know they're really crazy and sick and not to be helped well this isn't the position of psychiatry but there are thousands of people that believe this and good many court officers believe it and I am afraid that a few psychiatrists believe it because psychiatrists continue to turn up in court where they have absolutely no business and begin making pronouncements in
language where they don't understand at all which they do not use correctly or else they get on to their own mumbo jumbo which lawyers don't understand and a grand state of confusion may be retired with the feeling that the psychiatrists are a certain kind of egghead profession which doesn't really belong down here but sometimes rich people insist on getting them down here now this picture of psychiatry is very bad very wrong and one that grieves us a good deal and I think it would cause because you must remember that they're crying problem and we're talking about why I want you to feel I don't want you to get too solemn and overwhelmed with the solemnity of this various serious business I'm glad you can laugh but don't forget that this is a terribly serious matter I don't need to keep referring to what makes us all heavy hearted anyway in this nation I don't not this event alone this is one event but there there were
scores of murders occurred the last few days do you remember that and you must remember that generally statistically speaking and economically speaking murders one of our lesser crimes I mean that's one of the lesser things the whole machinery of protection is built around and that's going on right now as you're sitting here and what have you done to modify that one particle and you didn't know about these recommendations well they've been in the books why do you know about them you know about the recommendations for the changing in the taxation system you know about the recommendations for the other changes why don't you know that the present system of criminal criminal procedure and the penal logical procedure is all wrong by wrong I don't mean some ethical wrong as I mean that it defeats the purpose it is alleged to
be doing now this isn't hard to prove you know that the you know what the the newspapers tell you little of what goes on you know too that the jails are full crowded at a time when other institutions are finding ways to diminish the populations they hospitals used to be jammed to the doors now but they're not that way any really civilized state no state no state has to have no state has to have such overcrowding now because we know ways to get the patients outside of the institute not push them in but you am in this city at the present moment 4,958 people that's several times more people that are in this room who are sitting in jail at your expense eating some kind of food at your expense who are not get proved guilty of any crime
American citizens I believe innocent they'll prove guilty of the crime is he not these people have had no trial they're just waiting for somebody to find out if they've done anything or if it can be proved that they've done anything and they may wait quite a while not only that you've got quite a few have been proved to have been doing something that somebody disapproved and they're being cured of these bad habits by being detained in the same jails also waiting until something happens now this is in spite of vigorous efforts on the part of dedicated people to introduce a little education a little inspiration a little cultural a little the religious counsel and so forth but the very best that the efforts of many such dedicated people dedicated people can do is slight in the face of the thousands and thousands of people that you have
locked up and what do you think you're waiting for what are you waiting for to happen do you think that they sit down there being locked up that that some transformation is going to occur in them and I think most of us feel that if that's the case and then we should range then to be locked up a long time or else that if the long enough for some change really to occur for you this is to say nothing about the much larger number of felons that are never apprehended and the large number of felons who are apprehended but are not convicted it would think at the time the state Lewis crime survey out of 1000 crimes 100 perpetrators were arrested this is roughly the figures 100 were tried 10 were convicted and one served the sentence now don't know what the figures are now this I know this with these were the figures I remember that decimal order very clearly
well what is this present system that's which which stood all reform suggestions all the recommendations had been made for over a hundred years it staunchly stands you know like an old castle against all the the winds of change and made by legal and medical authorities well let's assume that the police have done an energetic inefficient job they've arrested somebody and that a prosecutor has proven here the accused guilty in spite of a good conscientious defense you see I'm letting this all be ideal and that the overworked patient and often but often under informed judge has looked up in the book see what magic number can be applied to this particular villainy and after due deliberation in public ceremony supposedly solemn but often
perfunctory the pillion wretches pronounced an enemy of society and is committed to the care of the official state punishers that's judge cross you can both up punish him now your urges job is to get out punished this fall off for six years so now fancy fancy this assignment how would you go about punishing somebody for six years making sorry you got into this mess not making sorry you got himself get caught no not sorry that he admitted something was just sorry that he did it now this is a great bias reform is going to be done so this obviously he what what he is in taken off to be confined with hundreds of other unsuccessful criminals now you see I say unsuccessful because obviously this fellas plans went wrong or it wouldn't be there we know empirically you know or do you know it's this it's so apt to be the stupid
the poor let me say often the feeble minded the death certainly of the desperate the friendless of the outcast man who commits the sort of crimes that don't come all gets arrested and convicted and gone through this rigmarole now does anybody seriously believe that many clever or many wealthy criminals get caught and treated in this way why not it isn't because people are bought off I mean it isn't as simple to explain like that it's because if somebody cares this isn't the route to take but when you got people then then you see what it gets down to here that we're talking about the management of people nobody cares about now if these people are somebody that nobody cares about and this whole business is the result of you're not caring somebody else become involved in this guilt you see besides the prisoner
and your age the offender haven't committed this crime and I want you to be just pity remember he's a rascal he's not very pleasant fellow he's not so very nice to deal with he's expert in being disagreeable more expert than some of you know not somebody to weep over at the moment I'm not I think psychiatrist often put themselves in the wrong light by the appearing to be too full of pity oh the poor fellow was sure oh the poor fellow but all the poor society that puts up with him but all the stupid society that goes on doing the things that make you see what I mean a vicious circle is set up anyway the prisoners mustered in labeled numbered and assigned in buildings and quarters distinguished for their gloominess and grime he languishes in the cheerless company of others equally miserable hopeless and resentful and often equally stupid if I may say so heard it about by man half afraid and half contemptuous of
him for whom he turned all offenders early learned to present a steadfast attitude of sullen hostility the atmosphere of dread hate loneliness and sexual frustration pervades the dank dungeons and cold hangars like a miasma while time grinds out its weary months and years the whole prison is full of evil it's an evil place as that's been said over and over in the very best at the highest-minded administrators can do with a dirty evil wicked grime breeding place like that isn't going to protect you or me very much from a group of people that we haven't begun to understand mostly because we haven't tried comes at last to parole board on the scheduled minimum date and the warden chief guard and the prisoner himself offer opinions as to whether he has become properly sorry and behave properly dusk duskly and us us seemed to be a
reformed change man who had learned his lesson and will go about life in a new way and therefore ready for parole whether the parole board is as perspicacious and conscientious as I know some of them to be or as stupid and unscrupulous as I have known others to be the prisoner who has thus been far been thoroughly and expensively educated by the state or the city in concealing his fury he's dumped back upon society to sink or swim this he will try to do is he is able assisted the may we say sarcastically by the dreadful experience he has just been through and the hostile world he reenters he is ejected into complex social and economic situations which were already too much for him and expected to enter again the unequal tussle with smarter and usually a smarter nicer and usually more successful people proscribe for employment by
most concerns and usually unable to return to his original employment if he had any he is now expected to find new friends and ways of living and above all to survive without any further help except in the occasional warning from a watchful parole officer do the churches reach out to take him in you know do business firms recruit him do the unions quickly take him in and find him a job does the country club give him a locker does any but the lowest class restaurant or rooming house permit so unprepossessing shabbly dressed and off an ill-favored individual to eat or sleep in their premises and does he do any of us any good to say nothing of himself aside from his parole officer toward whom he may not always feel kindly the first friendly face at such individuals likely to see the wanders about in the streets has that of some crummy of the old
age has been waiting for a little help to do a little job this is a system ladies and gentlemen which in a hundred years all the suggestions that we have made have not managed to change essentially one particle the main time we learn how to go through the air a thousand miles a minute and shoot missiles and all sorts of things which sciences taught us to do and one would think that the behavioral sciences hadn't progressed a particle now this I protest as a soul science has made progress behavior science has made progress we we do know better ways to do these things but we can't get them done does anyone does anyone ask what might have been done to deter this man from continuing the
direct me have been going does anyone ask what might be done to redirect him and how he would redirect him and who would redirect him does anyone discover a little talk with him that he is really mentally retarded or that he's hallucinated are these delirious as he frequently is or suffuse with ideas that he is being persecuted or their people are against him or that nobody wants him and that he must be alone wolf and find some way to express his life peculiarly all that he is an avenging angel who ought to slay the enemies of white supremacy or cuba or somebody else does anyone ask whether he might still be dangerous if released now that his arbitrary predetermined sentence has expired does anyone ask what useful things he might do what values he might render to society you know certainly not because that's not in the book why should we try to help a criminal criminals are to be held and hurt they're made to be sorry they're to be
punished and to be threatened and worn not help for heaven's sake what kind of mush is that that soft headed and sentimental and that's just like you hedge shrinkers all sentimental we should lock these people up and keep them there these cuffs should look out for themselves I don't get busy and look smart and keep their noses clean whatever that means and stay out of trouble or else you know we persist in the use of this out worn obsolete attitude and these others out worn obsolete formula when we written by man long dead who knew nothing about the president of fender nothing about his problems or about his potential these about his capacity to learn or lack of thereof nothing about the misunderstandings of his the provocation given him or the provocations given by him the handicaps holding him down the dangers ruthless and hatred
ruthlessness and hatred which he nurses more significantly the authors of the code knew nothing about modern behavioral science nothing about the modern scientific understanding of motivation or of human behavior in its control and they formulated their rules and procedures upon medieval thinking regarding the functions of criminal law which they proudly persist in maintaining in spite of all the suggestions and and urges in which their own leaders join why is this what is the meaning of this will not to believe this why is it that these recommendations for a change in philosophy for a betterment of the system have fallen on apparently seem to fall on death ears for more than a century while medical science in the meantime has been able to demonstrate that it can point away to making changes in certain personality structure behavior patterns
why are we I'm talking about us as public now why are we so long suffering why are we so self destructive my daughter was assigned to write an essay in school high school recently on quotation she chose the perhaps influenced by her home life George Bernard Shaw's declaration that the plain working truth is that not only good for people to be shocked occasionally but absolutely necessary for the progress of science of society if they be shocked pretty often what she said she had to have an illustration and it suddenly occurred to me in spite of John Howard pain and Harriet beat you well John Howard pain let's say in a few others the public has never really been shocked by the prison system I don't believe they are I don't I don't believe you are maybe I revived a few now tell me honestly before how many of you
have been have been horrified and deplored the shocking say I don't mean the conditions in one jail where you somebody complained I'm talking about the bad the wretched evil crime producing situations in jails all over the United States how many have been shocked about it but you see that's not enough people to be shocked we've got to get more people into a state of shock over the matter because otherwise what happens everybody said well let's George everybody said let George do it well why doesn't the mayor fix it well why doesn't the governor do something well why don't we all do something why don't you do something this this this question who is supposed to do something you know either at a painful question these days as we review social actions in this country and elsewhere you have to all of this that I just read you now was written before last week right now the public public is shocked not so much at dealing with
offenders but him the preventing of offenses now what good will come out of it will the real lessons about the seriousness of criminal propensities be be be learned from this terrible terrible tragedy or will we move more then move on find escape goals and settle a matter think about the things and will the public be able to face its own crimes of omission for while one villainous offender is robbing or raping or doing some killing we and members of society are a party that is criminal to produce criminal producing and criminally inadequate and negligent system of control I read in the paper to say came here something by mr. John Crosby and they're attributably we're horrified you said when our president is gunned down in Dallas
followed immediately by the clownish killing of the killer but we condone crime every day on TV in the newspapers it's very difficult to get the American people outraged I said shocked are upset or even interested in their crime problem I discovered when I write or talk against crime people think I'm being putish as if indignation about crime there I'd change it say indignation about the way we go on treating those accused of crime is is something where Mrs. Grundy to worry about crime is like sex a healthy outlet and in any case inevitable I read that I read that since I came here but you see I did mimus as Grundy in home most people have never walked to a penitentiary or even a county jail most criminal court judges and never
visited these institutions to which they are constantly committing their awards to be treated if a doctor sent a man to a hospital to be treated he goes to see whether the treatments being carried on the judges don't seem to believe in this principle prosecuting attorneys I mean this why shouldn't they I mean they sent him there to get him improved well they better go and see if he's getting improved whether the people are doing what they what he thinks they're doing how many do you think come do you think one in a hundred comes I'm telling you they don't when I have taken judges with me to visit prisons occasionally and examine some of the prisoners they're usually far more shocked than I because I've been there before oh they say I didn't know this and I'm on where did you hear that phrase before I didn't know this was going on you know not only judges who rarely visit prisons nobody visits prison how many in this room
have visited the prison well that's quite a lot and I congratulate you but then you're a very intelligent group of people most people would not would not visit the prison they would consider it wrong place and improper place to go and so on despite the quiet advice of Jesus I was in prison and you visited me prisons like old fashioned state hospitals are not welcome visitors always and most people even kindly charitably minded ones feel they have no business there they don't know how terrible it is and how well designed it is to make man miserable bitter and desperate with a few exceptions that I have already mentioned in Californian Wisconsin and Maryland and so on well you see I'm trying to shock you because a little bit because I think that did you some of you may have seen at television show the other night and the last word when find a couple of ruffians intimidate terrorize a whole carload of peaceably inclined people
as they think they're peaceably inclined produce a very cleverly shows that there's a good deal of aggression and violence inside of them too but they're all quiet down in the face of this violence on the part of two boys the bully everybody and mistreat them rather shockingly and in the end a man with his arm broken can't stand it anymore though his arm is in a cast he gets on take he gets up and takes on both of these bullies and not a soul in the whole car gets up to help him he a cripple fights against these two bullies which have been intimidated everyone and they won't even help him and while he manages to and then there's a woman also who stands up and tries to encourage she also tries to take at least a verbal part in the defense and as he leaves they've seen the policeman rush in and all the rest he looks at them and he
said what kind of people are you anyway I think it's one of the most eloquent statements I've ever seen on television what kind of people are they when violence occurs under their eye nope well dare me use that that that settled and so forth and you know that Hannah Aaron brings us out in her book the in on the banality of evil people say well we didn't know this was going on you didn't know these things were going on the state hospital revolution in Kansas occurred only and we told the public to the newspapers what they surely must have suspected was going on well we didn't know this was going on we won't have this for a minute and it stopped really the newspapers and the and the radio made the state hospital revolution in Kansas which
changed us from being the 47th state in the union to being we are proud they say number one or at least near the top in our state hospital provisions and efficiency effectiveness when that came about because the people decided it didn't want the old system to continue and it came about when they learned about it but why didn't they know about it there's a play now attracting some attention in Europe and England as you know asking why even the pope kept silent while the awful slaughter and torture was going on in Germany why did the pope keep silent did the leader of any great religious bodies speak out not many one or two did well maybe one or two did England say anything did the United States say anything not for a while did no did we say oh we didn't know how bad it was I can remember a group of officers just
came to Paris the day I arrived they had just opened up Buchenwald and one of them was still nauseated and vomiting he said it's the most dreadful thing I ever saw why this was awful he said I didn't know this was going on I said what did you think the war was about well you mean you didn't know it was going on well I didn't know it was like this but what did you think it was like what kind of slaughter and torture is a nice kind I ask you and so he say well we didn't know this was going on our prison but why don't you it's there you're visiting the commissioner glad to have you visit go and look now I'm nearly at the end I only want to say that there must be some reasons for this failure for the obvious reform suggestions to be taken and I've tried to think what they were and I've outlined in my mind that I scribe this to three prevailing fallacies in our thinking the first these three fallacies are
going to be the subjects of the they're going to be the subject of the subsequent talk now I'm giving you a preview of it I think the first fallacy is the general tendency to think that crime is something that's certain and like mental illness is something that certain people get and others don't get that it's the affliction that it's the peculiar affliction of certain people not just the failure of certain individuals to control the same violent impulses that we all have no but some special kind of violence some special kind of disease now this is a fallacy that peculiarly affects some like I think us doctors I think we doctors get to thinking about diseases if there were certain diseases like malaria which are really not diseases but the reaction to a little animal or a little plant there's a little animal a little plant gets into people and then they have these chosen fever so you get it out of them they get well some illnesses
are like that but most mental illness I believe is not like that most mental illness has been an exaggeration of something that all of us have some of the time and that some of us have often these exaggerations these reactions to stress which are rather more than necessary if you get control of the situation can be very disturbing to the people around us who then call us nervous or they call us neurotic or they may even call us crazy or something else now I think these reactions to stress which the appear in various forms of psychiatrists are familiar with can be evaluated in point of severity and I think they can be evaluated in course of trend I think it's true some of them can be described by certain features but I think calling them names is a relic of the old medieval period when you give a name to it oh that's malaria that's this thing you've got
it or you haven't got it people will say well you mean you don't think there's any such thing as insanity no I don't of course I don't need it as any psychiatrist think that well when you think of such a thing a psychosis don't you know I don't I think there's a word psychosis which is a part of psychiatric mumbo jumbo just like insanity is a part of the legal mumbo jumbo but it can be defined anyway you want it to be defined but I don't think you can correlate it similarly I think there's a legal word like responsibility you've got it or you haven't got it I don't want to think about that I don't it's mumbo jumbo as far as I'm concerned if a man does the crime he's responsible who else is not his great grandmother he did it who else did it now the idea of making respect that responsibility depends on this depends on that what does it depend on did he do it or didn't he do it did he have a part in it that's what we want to know
but that's something I'm not competent to answer that's a legal word I think the lawyer would be better off if he dropped the word responsibility forever don't call on me to tell you whether the man is responsible don't ask me if he's competent to stand trial I don't know what you mean by competent to stand trial competent to do what I know of man's competent to play golf or competent to bid right and bridge competent to stand trial is something you know about I don't know about it so that I don't think we psychiatrist belong in the courtroom at all because I don't think we have any any function in this adversary system I think we can help before the man goes to trial I think we can help afterwards but in the courtroom I think the judge and the lawyer and the jury should prevail and should entirely conduct the operations their way not try to involve us in it I'm not alone in this but in matter of age you know a judge judge a judge a day basil on and and knew there was other judges have
distancedly advocated this judge wine trouble over New Jersey says very wisely I think when the psychiatrist get in here and say that as they do officially and we do that functional aberration judges the psychiatrist tells judges that there's no such thing as insanity but then they begin inconsistently applying terms like neurosis psychosis schizophrenia psychopathy and other such words to describe the devil possession which they think which is under consideration and the judge doesn't see any distinction between that and psychopathy or psychosis and I don't either I'm a insanity I think these are just all words that what we ought to do is to say here is a man with such and such degree of severity of reaction and such and such stress and that this trend is going in this or that direction you quit this name calling into which it is so easy to fall say well what does he have he doesn't have anything mental illness is not something about
having something will will what is he what's the name of it it hasn't any name isn't anything all of this is a part of the devil possession theory which I we should get away from and until we get away from it we're going to have these constant arguments about just where the psychiatrist is going to be helpful you're not going to be helpful with any of those designations no psychiatrist ever helps a judge by any of these things which is Dr. Wayne Rob says how can you have one word one functional aberration which you call a disease like psychosis and then something else which is inscrutably called effective caricature this rests upon an unarticulated unscientific assumption that a man of one type is somehow the author of his nature while the man of another type is not I think judge Wayne Rob is exactly and truly is exactly right no I think we should look at the offender as a man stricken to adjust himself to the world this is you and I
are possessed with certain powerful drives this is you and I are they're accumulating various degrees of stress and tension just as you and I do in managing them in various ways just as you and I do but in under certain circumstances these ways pass beyond the type of behavior that you and I like and that we intend to put up with and it becomes threatening and uncomfortable or dangerous to us and we want that controlled now there are ways to control that but the way to control that is not by saying that can be counteracted by a counter force that the second fallacy is that that two evils make a good so crime plus punishment equal zero I mean if you got one bad thing then another bad thing will even it up then somebody else has to even have up and the only way you can ever stop the thing is somebody to do it officially so finally
the hangman stalks out and all and he puts an end to it he the final call except that then what happens is that the hangman becomes everybody's idea of the way to correct the crime this is the third great fallacy as long as we think we have an official right to do something to take away life which we can't give long we continually throw this threat which is a ghost you know not many people are practically nobody is executed capital punishment is really a ghost you know there's seven odd thousand homicides a year no number of other capital crimes go in the United States not one person not not one percent of them get are executed it's only a thread it's something to tie up the whole ridiculous paraphernalia this mumbo jungle now is irresponsible well is he nine tenths responsible what is he three sevenths responsible this redig responsible meaning is he in fifth will he enjoy and properly appreciate having his head cut off that's all
it means now this this sort of ridiculous thing indicates a complete misconception on my opinion of the psycho magical nature of violence you see if people just go out and beat up one another in the final beautiful fashion illustrated by television and nobody ever gets hurt to get pounded to have the very flesh knocked off of them it doesn't seem to bother anybody they don't even bleed now that kind of this piece everybody's fantasy in this wonderful in this wonderful violence to see everybody just having a terrible gory time so forth but everybody's all right the next day this is more of this idea that violence isn't worse doesn't matter you know it's it's all a kind of a trick it's all kind of a magic to policemen who my work had a got to got awfully bored on the job they get to kidding each other and one of
them said well why don't I just kill you and he said well you don't fear well of course I will kill you I believe I'll kill you today I believe I'll kill you about midnight tonight what do you say you only got eleven hours to live you better begin thinking oh you're gonna kill me tonight you're gonna tell me some other time I'll kill you first 12 o'clock that night he killed him shot him on duty then he came screaming into the guard how I killed him I killed him his my best friend why did I kill him I don't know why I killed him what would you do with somebody like that okay he thought well a little magic I just pull the trigger and it makes a noise nothing to that you know in the same way a magic I'll restore him you see you you psychiatrists begin to understand better than we then then maybe some of you that these fantasies become very real for people they become alternately real and unreal and if you if you can control such power great lengths great distances as you can why then should should
manufacturers be allowed to distribute guns to people in a population as heavy as ours is when there is many of these people have poor control their fantasy life and poor control their impulses why should we continue to allow guns to be sold anybody that wants one you have to get a you don't have to have a license to drive a car which I admit is a pretty deadly instrument and there again you get a sense of magic where we just breathe along you know brush right along kill distance without the thought nobody can quite realize when they hit somebody that they're hitting when thousands of tongues similarly this is another instance in which a human imagination does not keep up with invention you know and it is not really it does not appreciate the reality of the of the thing he has created that some of us have created now this this is no problem that I pretend to have the final answer to I only suggest that it's so easy to say that well
that a lot of bad people around something ought to be done about it I think that we the thing that has to be done about is for the publicly being to think about it think about its responsibilities think about the violence it knows think about the the gunning it approves and that doesn't approve think about the magic it indulges in think about all about the people that are trying to make a safer community for you who usually get anything but our sympathy anything but our support and anything that we even do our help we we we psychiatry doctor Cole but I have young sick and doctor Dr. Mark II we have young psychiatrists and cranium we want them to come and help the people that are in prison world we can't get them to do it oh no they say we'd rather do private practice and have nice pleasant patients you know not the kind of patients we get down there but I feel that we have to do we have to face the fact that these people need our help maybe
worst than some of the patients that are more able to pay for it and are more and are better friends of ours and so on and I leave you with this thought that you have some responsibility in this first of all to quench yourself with it and to be shocked and to want to change and to keep expecting him and him and me to make those changes we'll tell you what we think could be done did you find plenty of people at the working level or ready to if you back it that's the message of this first stone I'd agree like to thank you after that zesty lively and challenging lecture I discover for the first time in my life I am
brave because I must identify myself as a member of the law faculty I am here for three purposes the first of which is to make sure that the lectures are held in the proper place Columbia does have a medical school and a law school secondly my purpose is to thank doctor manager for this talk and for more than this talk for the evening with him as himself the third purpose is a sneaky one there is some question I understand about whether doctor manager is able to give the second and third lectures at Columbia perhaps as we say goodnight we might buy another round of zestful applause attracting back
Dr. Karl Menninger - Isaac Ray Lecture, The Relationship Between the Legal and the Psychiatric Professions
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10th annual Isaac Ray Award at Columbia University. Lecture by Karl Menninger.
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Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Speaker: Menninger, Karl A. (Karl Augustus), 1893-1990
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Chicago: “ Dr. Karl Menninger - Isaac Ray Lecture, The Relationship Between the Legal and the Psychiatric Professions ,” The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 26, 2024,
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