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I hear your frustration and sympathize. As a forensic psychologist myself, I can say that I have often times been disappointed (or worse) with some of my colleagues. That being said, there are several reasons for discrepant responses by different professionals.
Some psychologists do risk assessments (evaluations of dangerousness) by simply doing a clinical interview. I have never understood it, but it's still considered acceptable by the court system. This professional might find the person they are interviewing to be personable, likable, and pleasant. Thus, when they're done with the interview they might write up the report with those attributes in mind. Their rating may then say that based upon what the patient is now saying, they are a LOW risk.
Then, another psychologist may come in to interview the same person. Their assessment may consist of risk measurement testing using actuarial instruments to review the patient's history. This person is much more likely to come up with a more accurate read on the person in question because they are using tests that have been created for that purpose (which is what I do). Their rating may indicate that based on factors x,y,& z on the instruments that their likelihood of future dangerousness is actually Moderate to High. Or vice versa to the whole scenario.
Generally this is how our profession gets tripped up. There are lots of psychologists out there who were not trained in forensic practice, but who do it anyway. They offer opinions that are nothing more than that - opinions. They aren't based on testing, history, or actuarial data.
The other (and far worse) scenario is that one of the psychologists is skewing their opinion on what they know that they're "supposed" to find because their paycheck depends on it. I see this a lot in privately hired psychologists. They say what the client wants to hear - not what the facts say.
I promise that there are ethics and standards that govern the practice of most forensic psychologists. The good ones keep updating their training and knowledge every year. However, there are some bad ones out there too. My hope is that your experience is a representation of the first scenario I offered - and not the second.
Please let me know if you have any more queries...or just want to vent! Good luck to you!
WELL AT LEAST YOU MAKE SENSE! THE SENARIO WE ARE GOING THROUGH
IS A VENDETTA OF A PROSEUTOR THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR SINCE
2007. MY NIECE HAS BIPOLAR DISORDER AND THE PROSECUTOR IN THE
PAST HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET HER AS HE WOULD LIKE! THIS PROSECUTOR HAS GONE TO GREAT LENGTHS TO DO THIS AND HAS BEEN
CAUGHT THREATENING A DOCTOR THAT WORKED FOR THE SAME COUNTY
TO EXAMIN AND REPORT HIS FINDINGS. THE PROSECUTOR DID NOT LIKE
THE FINDINGS SO HE THREATENED THE DOCTOR TO CHANGE IT. WHICH THE
DOCTOR DID DO AND THEN THE NEXT DAY TOLD THE COUNTY WHAT HE DID!
LONG STORY SHORT HE HAD TO DROP THE CASE! THEN TOLD HER MOTHER
THAT HE WILL GET HER!!! MY NIECE DID BECOME ILL IN 2009 AGAIN AND
THIS PROSECUTOR WAS AFTER HER HE PETITIONED HER MENTALLY ILL
& DANGEROUS WITHOUT ANY VIOLENCE OR HARM TO KNOW ONE, THIS
PROSECUTOR HAD SET IT UP THAT SHE HAD ATTORNEY WORKING WITH HIM
AND THIS ATTORNEY HAS EMPLOYED THIS FORENSIC DOCTOR FOR OVER
20 YEARS. IT WAS JUST A WALK THROUGH IT IS REALLY SAD BECAUSE MY
NIECE HAD 5 DOCTORS WHO STATED SHE WAS IN FULL REMISSION AND
IT WAS THE BEST THEY HAVE EVER SEEN HER! MY NIECE WAS COURT
ORDERED INVOLUNTARY HELD WHEN THE PULLED THE SAME JUDGE THAT
WHEN THE LAWYER THREATENED THE DOCTOR DID NOTHING ABOUT IT!
THE EXAMINATION OF MY NIECE WAS GIVEN BY BOTH EXAMINERS AT THE
SAME TIME. THE REPORTS ARE IN TOTAL OPPISITE! THE COUNTY 'S
EXAMINER STATED IN COURT AFTER 60 DAY EVALUATION IN THE HOSPITAL
THAT HE DOES NOT READ THOSE REPORTS! WELL CAN YOU TELL ME HOW
HE CAN MAKE A DETERMINATION OF HER NEED OF CARE IN A STATE HOSPITAL
WHICH HE RECOMMENDED AND THE OTHER EXAMINER SAID THAT MY
NIECE DOES NOT MEET THE MENTAL ILL STANDARDS FOR COMMITMENT AND
HE HAS A HARD TIME REPORTING HER NEED FOR MENTALLY ILL & DANGEROUS WHEN SHE IS NOT MENTALLY ILL AT THIS TIME IN FULL REMISSION, AS YOU KNOW THE POLITICS OF THIS THE JUDGE TOOK THE
COUNTY'S REPORT AND IGNORED THE REST!! THIS DOES NOT APPEAR
TO BE FAIR BASED ON THE DOCTOR NOT EVEN READING THE 60 DAY EVAL
HOW CAN HEETHICALLY EVEN STATE ANYTHING ABOUT HER DOES HE HAVE
ESP. WELL WE ARE FIGHTING THIS SITUATION WHILE MY NIECE IS SITTING
DOWN IN STATE HOSPITAL WITH VERY DANGEROUS PEOPLE AND IS SCARED
TO DEATH! THIS WAS ALL SET UP YOU COULD COME UP WITH THIS STUFF
ON THE SCENARIO! PEOPLE THINK WELL WERE JUST BEING BIAS BECAUSE
SHE IS FAMILY. I HAVE SEEN THE WORST CORRUPTION AT ITS BEST AND
THIS FORENSIC DOCTOR PLAYED RIGHT ALONG!! I AM BEGINNING TO HAVE
LITTLE FAITH IN PSYCHOLOGIST!!! SORRY!!
No need to say you're sorry! I can completely see why you've lost faith in psychologists. It sounds like at least one of them compromised their ethics and standards due to outside pressure from a corrupt (to say the least!) judge. It sounds like a terrible situation and I hope that by working with either legal entities or with the state hospital that you can get your niece out of there! My guess is that if she is on an involuntary hold that the doctors there will be able to discharge her, although I don't know the particulars of your system.
I worked at a state hospital (forensic) for several years and all of the patients I saw were court mandated to be there. However, all of them had committed crimes, so I am at a disadvantage as far as discussing those who are committed before a crime is done. It seems odd to me and I definitely wouldn't assess someone as dangerous if they had no history of violence. It just goes against everything I know as a forensic psychologist. All instruments designed to evaluate dangerousness rely heavily on historical factors. If your niece doesn't have those historical factors, she shouldn't have been assessed as being a danger - its as simple as that.
Anyhow, as much as I would like to restore your faith in psychologists (I promise we're not all corrupt!), that isn't my aim here. My goal is really to support you and wish you well with your niece. Keep chipping away at the system and you'll get what you want eventually. Tell her to hang in there.
Best wishes, Dr. G.