Special Issue Introduction

By Sadoff, Robert L. | Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Special Issue Introduction


Sadoff, Robert L., Journal of Psychiatry & Law


It is a great honor and privilege for me to edit this special issue of the Journal of Psychiatry & Law, highlighting the work involving forensic psychiatry programs at the University of Pennsylvania. The Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program involves many aspects of teaching and training at the University of Pennsylvania. The program has breadth and depth extending from the Medical School to the Center for Bioethics, the Law School, the Nursing School, Criminology, and Neuroscience. The contributors to this special issue and the authors of these articles are all affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and contribute to the teaching and training of our residents and fellows in Forensic Psychiatry.

Susan Rushing, a psychiatrist and attorney, has worked in research in neuroscience and the law for several years and is coediting this special issue, focusing on the section that addresses neuroscience and the law. This section includes historical data by Kenneth Weiss, M.D. (an expert in the history of forensic psychiatry), articles by other experts in neuroscience, including Dr. Rushing's coauthor Daniel Langleben, M.D., and Abass Alavi, M.D., and a legal critique provided by eminent law professor and psychologist Stephen Morse, J.D., Ph.D.

We then include sections addressing addiction psychiatry, and - in the second of two installments of this special issue - child psychiatry, psychosomatic psychiatry, and geriatric psychiatry, from the four fellowship programs currently in existence at the University of Pennsylvania. The final section incorporates other schools at the University, including the Center for Bioethics, the Nursing School, and the program in psychology.

As a historical note, the Forensic Psychiatry Program at the University of Pennsylvania was inaugurated in 1970 by Jonas Robitscher, M.D., J.D., who, in 1972, left Penn to become the first Henry Luce Chair of Psychiatry and Law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. When Jonas left Penn, he asked if I would complete his 3-year NIMH Research Program that he entitled The Center for Studies in SocialLegal Psychiatry.

Thus, I began my career at Penn in 1972 as a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and Director of the Center for Studies in Social-Legal Psychiatry. During the next decade, we developed a Forensic Psychiatry Clinic, evaluating individuals sent to us by public defenders, the Legal Aid Society, and other legal service institutions. We received grant money from NIMH and the National Institute of Justice to conduct research in forensic psychiatry and criminal justice. The program at Penn evolved over the next several decades, until we were successful in achieving accreditation for a Fellowship Program in Forensic Psychiatry in 2009.

One of the strengths of the Department of Psychiatry that has been important in the development of our forensic training program is that of neuroscience and neuroimaging procedures. Dr. Ruben Gur, psychologist, has headed the neuroimaging program at Penn with his wife, a psychiatrist, Dr. Raquel Gur. Other neuroscientists instrumental in the program at Penn are Dr. Daniel Langleben and Dr. Adrian Raine. Dr. Langleben is concerned primarily with the use of neuroimaging in the detection of deception, whereas Dr. Raine, who is a university professor in the schools of both psychology and criminology, focuses his research on neuroimaging and criminal behavior. Dr. Joe Powers has initiated and directed the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, and has frequent guest speakers in the field and a 2-day seminar annually with prominent psychiatrists and researchers. Dr. Martha Farah, in the School of Psychology, has written extensively on the topic of neuroethics, an important consideration in forensic programs.

As seen in this special issue, the program in forensic psychiatry has associations with a number of different schools at Penn and different departments within the medical school. …

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