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Mohr, G.J. (1954). The Psychiatrist and the Law: By Winfred Overholser, M.D. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953. 147 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 23:126-128.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:126-128

The Psychiatrist and the Law: By Winfred Overholser, M.D. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953. 147 pp.

Review by:
George J. Mohr

Dr. Overholser, first recipient of the annual Isaac Ray Award of the American Psychiatric Association to the individual 'most worthy by reason of his contribution to the improvement of the relations of Law and Psychiatry', gave the four lectures published in this book at Harvard University in 1952.

The Substance of Psychiatry is a remarkably succinct and compact summary of basic concepts of modern psychiatry, with constant emphasis on the common concern of law and of psychiatry with human behavior and relations. The advances in understanding of human personality and the position of the law and of legal thinking in relation to this understanding are clearly stated.

In Some Differences of Viewpoint, the author notes divergences of legal and medical approaches to the human problems with which the court is confronted. The tendency toward maintenance of the status quo in law, the legal assumption that most acts are done 'on the basis of reasoning and the weighing of pros and cons', and the restrictive effect of lack of knowledge or understanding of modern psychology and psychiatry, are clearly stated. It is made equally clear, however, that progressive legal minds have for years pointed out these discrepancies. Justice Cardozo, for example, inveighed against the 'defective and unreal psychology' operative in the framing of statutes (p. 44). The unrealistic motivations in determining the current epidemic of so-called 'sexual psychopath' laws, and the emotional rather than reasoning attitudes of juries and of judges in determining their decisions, are graphically described.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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