Worshipping Psychobabble

Lately I have become unusually aggravated by so-called psychological “experts” testifying in criminal and civil courtrooms in West Virginia. I have cross examined these so-called “doctors” all-the-way from Monroe County to Berkeley County in the past month.  I have reviewed their reports.  I have come to the conclusion that (big surprise) its all about money.  Yours and mine.  There is an entire industry of people who, with maybe an extra year of college, get to milk the taxpayers for their junk-science counseling and fabricated analysis.  They would not survive in the free market, except of course, in the realm of being “expert witnesses” for litigants who can afford them.

From child custody cases in Family Court, to abuse and neglect cases in Circuit Court, to the evaluations of defendants in criminal sentencing in Circuit Courts, it’s always the same thing: psychoquack gets money, person meets with psychoquack, psychoquack writes a report dribbling on about some test he or she ran on the person and what the results mean and ultimately giving an opinion that’s not worth a grain of salt.

I cross examined an “expert” in an abuse and neglect trial in Circuit Court the other day.  I found out that this guy “examines” parents who are facing termination of their parental rights, upon request by the State (DHHR – who is the party seeking the termination) to the tune of about 20 per month, all “referred” by DHHR, whereby he gets paid at least 400-500 dollars for each “examination”.  That’s about 9,000 to 10,000 per month of income this guy receives from the State to throw these folks under the bus.  I guess it’s no big surprise what his opinion was in my case.  Of course it was that parental rights should be terminated – despite the fact that the treating psychoquack and the social worker both had the opposite opinion.  He was paid for his opinion, and he gave it – regardless of whether it was the right thing to do.

In Family Court cases, “expert” psychoquack witnesses routinely testify, allegedly in the best interests of the children.  But they are nothing more than psycho-prostitutes, where the party who hires them is by default the ideal person to maintain custody of the child(ren).  Is there anything more disgusting than a “professional” who pretends to act in the best interests of a child, but 100% of the time in reality acts in the best interests of the party paying them?  I’d rather associate with inmates.

And then there are the psychoquacks who make a living off of court referrals for evaluations in criminal sentencings.  Many times they charge 3,000 to 5,000 dollars per “evaluation,” and the poor defendant, if he or she has some income or assets, has no choice but to pay it – the judge ordered it.  And for those who are indigent, guess who foots the bill?  Ultimately the taxpayers.  Every one of these reports was about the same: pages and pages of dribble about some scientific and complex sounding test that they ran, and the scores which the defendant scored on each individual test.  Then you turn about 10 pages to get to the very end, and there is about a one page opinion that goes on and on without really saying anything helpful, and which includes “recommendations” which are copy and pasted from some other report that they did the day before.

There.  I’ve released these negative thoughts which have been brewing in my head for quite some time – now you deal with them.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

2 thoughts on “Worshipping Psychobabble

  1. “Psychoquack” I love it!. It is indeed silly that ones opinion is “ordered” and is clearly only in the interest of the party paying. Psychology and the science of it may be helpful in many areas. But to make a snap decision on a case they are relatively unfamiliar with doesn’t seem like justice to me.

    But, it is what it is, apparently somewhere, someone thinks its a good idea. But it sure feels good to vent sometimes. Well written!

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