The Injustice of Forensic Psychology Argumentative Essay

Looks at the failures of forensic psychology because, by abandoning common practice, it now lacks efficacy, theoretical support and ethical justification.
# 151722 | 2,245 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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This paper argues that, at several phases within the context of highly partisan and zealous trial proceedings, forensic psychologists must almost abandon the traditional therapeutic capacity of psychologists to "primum nil nocere", or "first, do no harm". Next, the author examines two central ethical dilemmas of the practice of forensic psychology by investigating if forensic psychologists are clinicians or expert analysts and if they deal in the realm of fact and certainty or interpretation and variability. The paper concludes that, by requiring psychologists to play "the game" to make an impact, with both sides ruthless and biased, with human lives hanging in the balance, the author maintains that the current state of forensic practice, in their expert testimony, does far more harm than good. Several quotations are included in the paper.

From the Paper:

"There exists a pervasive presumption among the populace (e.g., jurors, witnesses, defendants) that psychologists --most especially those imparting expert testimony (under oath) --are objective and ethical in their practice, accepting and supportive in their intervention. But clinical and forensic practice are two very different beasts; in the courtroom, expert witnesses need only be objective insofar as they do not contradict either themselves or the facts of the case, revealing their (State-commissioned) bias, and they need only be ethical insofar as they do not commit perjury. As for the consequences of forensic testimony, few (if any) of the interventions imposed by the criminal justice system --particularly for those who suffer from psychopathology --could be called accepting or supportive, let alone both. Rather, those deemed mentally ill are (oft indefinitely) warehoused in under-funded institutions which rely decisively on psycho-pharmaceuticals, while those not deemed ill enough are imprisoned among the general population.
"In either case, the health of the individual is superseded by the system's ability to impose compliance; the goal is not to help the patient (i.e., beneficence) or ease his suffering, but to maintain his ability to operate according to the system's parameters, even if only at the most rudimentary level. This end is accomplished through mandatory psychotropics and solitary confinement, among other methods."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Stone, Alan: Law, Psychiatry, and Morality: Essays and Analysis, 1984, American Psychiatric Publishing
  • Ewing, Charles, & McCann, Joseph: Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychology, 2006, Oxford University Press
  • Frontline: A Crime of Insanity []
  • Weber, Max: 'Objectivity in social science and social policy', in The Methodology of the Social Sciences, 1949, NY Free Press

Cite this Argumentative Essay:

APA Format

The Injustice of Forensic Psychology (2012, September 06) Retrieved August 15, 2022, from

MLA Format

"The Injustice of Forensic Psychology" 06 September 2012. Web. 15 August. 2022. <>