Is Psychiatry Now Deciding Who Works?
“I had refused to take bribes and had testified against my fellow officers. Police make up a peculiar subculture in society. More often than not they have their own moral code of behavior, an ‘us against them’ attitude, enforced by a Blue Wall of Silence. It’s their version of the Mafia’s omerta. Speak out, and you’re no longer ‘one of us.’ You’re one of ‘them’.” — Frank Serpico
IS THE COMBINATION OF PSYCHIATRY WITH SELF-POLICING ELIMINATING OUR BEST AND BRIGHTEST?
If psychiatry is going to decide whether Judge Adams or President Trump, or you or I will be allowed to work, we may want to question whether psychiatric diagnosis is even legitimate. If so, is self-policing protecting the public from anything real?
I. IS PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSIS LEGITIMATE?
A. Psychiatric diagnosis is invalid – according to its own practitioners
The DSM, aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, though it contains no statistics and is based merely on votes from prominent psychiatrists meeting in committee, is still considered psychiatry’s diagnostic (and billing) “Bible”. Whatever psychiatrist the Northern District’s “special Committee” has in mind to diagnose Judge Adams, will no doubt use the DSM. However, in May, 2013 the director of the NIMH [National Institute of Mental Health], Dr. Thomas Insell, publicly announced that the NIMH was withdrawing its support for research involving DSM diagnoses, observing that
“its weakness is its lack of validity”.
Insell criticized the DSM for being based on “symptom-based diagnosis” and noted that symptoms are transitory – not the basis for a diagnosis of disease. The invalidity of the DSM was really nothing new. A previous director of the NIMH, Dr. Allen Frances, who headed up the DSM-IV committee, referred to in an April 19, 1994, New York Times piece, “Scientist at Work” by Daniel Goleman, as
“[p]erhaps the most powerful psychiatrist in America at the moment”, gave an interview in 2010 in which he stated “There is no definition of amental disorder. It’s bullshit. I mean, you just can’t define it.” [Greenberg, G. “Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness”, Wired, 12/27/10] [emphasis supplied]
Dr. Frances has remained consistent with that position ever since. Make no mistake: invalidity of the DSM means that it does not measure what it purports to measure. Which makes a person wonder why judges use testimony based on it to take way children, impose or not impose the death penalty, award guardianships on older adults based on presumed “dementia”, or order psychiatric lockup of those believed to be in the way. Despite caselaw purporting to require judges to consider only evidence that is valid and reliable [Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms. Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993)], invalid and unreliable psychiatric testimony has no problem thriving in most courtrooms. Peer review hearings such as those conducted by Danny Boggs against Judge Adams concern themselves even less with whether evidence is valid or reliable.
B. Psychiatric diagnosis is unreliable – according to its own practitioners
The diagnoses contained in the DSM, each one identified by a Medicaid billing number, are, besides being invalid, also unreliable. Unreliability refers to the inability of a diagnosis to be replicated from one practitioner to another. Without the ability to replicate a diagnosis, there is no science. Yet the problem seems to grow with each revision of the DSM. Committees of psychiatrists who vote on which diagnoses to include in each DSM revision keep adding new “disorders”. These include “conditions” most of us consider normal such as grieving longer than seven months after the death of a loved one. Attorney Wayne Ramsay cites further examples of normal behavior that the DSM V and even earlier versions pathologize, and for which a person can lose his liberty. They include “hording disorder” (for being a “clutter bug”), “Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorder”(for being a “night owl”), “tobacco use disorder” (for being a smoker), “oppositional defiant disorder” (for being a rebellious child), and so forth. [Source]
In an article about the DSM reliability problem, psychiatrist Robert Spitzer, the original DSM developer, admitted in a 2005 interview that
‘To say that we’ve solved the reliability problem is just not true’.
[Spiegel, A. The Dictionary of Disorder “How one man revolutionized psychiatry.” 2/24/05 New Yorker]
As the article reported:
“Problems with the reliability of psychiatric diagnosis became evident during the Second World War, when the military noticed that medical boards in different parts of the country had dramatically different rejection rates for men attempting to enlist. A draft board in Wichita, say, might have a twenty-per-cent exclusion rate, while Baltimore might find sixty per cent of its applicants unfit for service. Much of the disparity was on psychiatric grounds, and this was puzzling. It seemed implausible that the mental stability of potential recruits would vary so greatly from one area to another. A close study of the boards eventually determined that the psychiatrists responsible for making the decisions had widely divergent criteria. So a hypothesis emerged: perhaps it was not the young men but the doctors who were the problem.
In 1949, the psychologist Philip Ash published a study showing that three psychiatrists faced with a single patient, and given identical information at the same moment, were able to reach the same diagnostic conclusion only twenty per cent of the time. Aaron T. Beck, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy, published a similar paper on reliability in 1962. His review of nine different studies found rates of agreement between thirty-two and forty-two per cent. These were not encouraging numbers, given that diagnostic reliability isn’t merely an academic issue: if psychiatrists can’t agree on a patient’s condition, then they can’t agree on the treatment of that condition, and, essentially, there’s no relationship between diagnosis and cure. . . .Allen Frances, . . .the director of the DSM-IV, says, ‘Without reliability the system is completely random, and the diagnoses mean almost nothing—maybe worse than nothing, because they’re falsely labeling. You’re better off not having a diagnostic system.’” [emphasis supplied]
One of the most dramatic demonstrations of both psychiatric invalidity and its unreliability is exemplified in the Rosenhan study, the results of which were published in 1973 in the journal Science. In that study, ordinary people with no psychiatric histories presented themselves to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in 5 states, feigning mild auditory hallucinations. All were admitted but even when a few days later the pseudo-patients acted normally, said they felt fine, and no longer heard voices, hospital staff forced them to admit to having “mental illness”, coercing them to take anti-psychotic drugs as a condition of release. The pseudo-patients, including Dr. Rosenhan, were kept hospitalized an average of 19 days each. All but one of them left the facility with the label of ‘schizophrenia in remission’ – in deference to American psychiatrists’ claimed belief that “mental illness” is forever. Many of the hospital patients who were already there when Dr. Rosenhan and his pseudo-patients were admitted, were not fooled. Even they had no trouble pointing out that the new pseudo-patients were obviously not mentally ill – but were researchers or professors because they were seen taking notes. Hospital staff characterized the note taking instead as being part of the “mental illness”. In a second part of the study, one offended hospital administrator asked Rosenhan to send some more pseudo-patients, claiming the hospital would then be able to detect the fake patients. Rosenhan agreed. Out of 193 new patients admitted a few weeks later, the hospital identified 41 as pseudo-patients. Dr. Rosenhan had sent no one. [Source]
II. INFLATED PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES – FUEL FOR FRAUD
The DSM’s unreliability and invalidity is so well-documented a good case can be made that it perpetrates a fraud on society and on healthcare insurers. This may make it easier for its diagnosticians to inflate already meaningless labels for billing purposes – a practice also known as up-coding. Diagnostic inflation, in even a purely medical sense, refers to the systematic over-diagnosing of “severe mental illness”, usually to fit into one of various federal grant categories. The more severe the “diagnosis”, the more Medicaid and other federal programs will pay a psychiatric hospital to use pharmaceuticals and psychiatric “services” that are medically unnecessary. State courts are also funded by many different federal programs.
Although the federal government is aware of the extensive Medicaid fraud being routinely perpetrated on it by the states, it rarely does much to make them accountable. False Claims Act cases are among the most complex to prosecute for the victims, whistleblowers, and the Department of Justice. A review of recent dismissals suggests that attorneys defending psychiatry as practiced by corporations and state governments are able to invoke any of a number of esoteric legal theories to obtain dismissals of fraud claims filed usually by insider whistleblowers. The federal government has also demonstrated its growing awareness of the Medicaid fraud being perpetrated on it by state hospitals every time federal prosecutors initiate a marketing fraud prosecution against the drug manufacturers supplying ineffective and dangerous psychiatric pharmaceuticals to hospitals and other prescribers. Big Pharma’s prescribers seem to be left untouched – so far. [Source]
The multi-million and sometimes multi-billion dollar settlements achieved in recent years against drug manufacturers due to their marketing frauds, are split among state and federal governments and the whistleblower plaintiff, who is usually a former drug company insider. Those directly injured or killed by the drugs do not share in these settlements. Even after pleading guilty, drug manufacturers remain free to continue to market the offending drugs.
The Center for Public Integrity and Kaiser Health News recently exposed over-diagnosing as a rampant means of maximizing private healthcare fraud profits at taxpayer expense. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Justice joined a California whistleblower’s lawsuit that accused mega-corporation United Health Group of “gaming” the Medicare Advantage health insurance payment system by “making patients look sicker than they are,” said attorney William K. Hanagami. According to Hanagami, “If the goal of fraud is to artificially increase risk scores and you do that wholesale, that results in some rather significant dollars,” The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) estimates that the financial losses due to health care fraud are in the tens of billions of dollars each year.
States now have financial incentives they didn’t have before to build more psychiatric hospitals. The pharmaceutical industry has been strenuously promoting various versions of what was called the Murphy bill, which get slipped piecemeal into state laws. The current version of the Murphy bill, the 21st Century Cures Act, is funded to the tune of some $6.3 billion [Source]. With the repeal of the IMD [Institutions for Mental Disease] exclusion, state psychiatric facilities are able to bill federal programs for almost any psychiatric expense, including psychotropic drugging of infants. With that building boom comes more forced treatment and more institutionalizations, reversing decades of human rights protections from the de-institutionalization period. As the grants get spent down, cost-saving measures inevitably strip down psychiatric “care” to a bare minimum.
Judicial decisions that protected constitution-based liberty rights during the 1970s and 1980s, when de-institutionalization fit governments’ fiscal agenda, are now widely being replaced (but not specifically over-ruled) by judicial opinions affirming whatever lockup decision a trial judge chooses to make. The theory is that “public safety” requires that more of us be locked up– despite the absence of evidence of any correlation between a mental illness diagnosis by itself and violence. Most people in America with a psychiatric diagnosis are drugged with pharmaceuticals, often several kinds. A 2011 Harvard study, using figures from the FDA, correlated the use of psychiatric drugs, as well as sudden withdrawal from them, with extreme homicidal violence.
One of the states newly incentivized to enact Medicaid expansion and build more psychiatric facilities is Ohio. Now that de-institutionalization has lost its judicial support, states are incentivized to enact Medicaid expansion legislation. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor joined forces in 2013 with the state’s psychiatric bureaucracy to defy the vote of Ohio’s legislature rejecting Medicaid expansion. [Source] Once O’Connor and Kasich had smashed a Constitutional challenge to their scheme brought by Ohio’s 1851 Center for Constitutional rights and a group of Ohio legislators, O’Connor began to ramp up her “specialized dockets” program designed to educate Ohio judges about“the new standard for diagnosing individuals with psychiatric disorders” [p. 4]. As of the publication of the 2016 Columbus Free Press article, O’Connor’s right arm in this effort was one Cardwell C. Nuckols, a psychologist and convicted Medicaid/Medicare kickback perpetrator.US v. Nuckols, Case No. 1:01-cr-00525 (ND ED Ohio 2001).
Judge Adams may be aware that even out-patient psychiatric “treatment” commonly includes the de facto power to force drug. The United Nations Torture Convention of 1984 defines torture to include such forced or coerced drugging. The definition of torture under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2340(2)(B), a federal statute, agrees with international law that one of the elements of torture, “severe mental pain or suffering”, includes
“the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality”.
Certainly the purpose of psychiatric “substances” is to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality. Even though drugging often causes physical and mental pain and invariably – brain damage, there appear to be so many legal technicalities with interpreting the language of the statute and the torture treaty that prosecutions of psychiatric torture of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil are basically non-existent. Drug manufacturers have been getting away with concealing from the FDA, the results of about half of their clinical drug trial results. The missing clinical trials, if ever revealed in full, are expected to show even more adverse drug reactions than the ones already documented .
III. SELF-POLICING, FITNESS FOR DUTY EXAMS, & SHAM PEER REVIEW
The utilization of psychiatry by a review board of some kind as a weapon against an Article III federal judge and/or a sitting U.S. president is relatively novel – a matter of “first impression” according to Judge Scirica’s opinion.[p. 38] Whether called peer review or fitness for duty exams (FFDE’s), self-policing with psychiatric back-up has been quietly gaining a toehold against those of us who depend on a government licensure to continue in our employment. If our colleagues or a member of the public decides one of us has stepped out of line, there are well-developed and funded procedures to address allegations against us. Typically these involve a licensing board, committee, or disciplinary body conducting closed door “hearings” or “investigations”. These bodies serve as a grand jury investigative body and then as judge of the person’s fitness to have or keep his or her license-dependent employment. In the criminal justice system, those two functions – investigation and adjudication are very much separate – due to Constitutional notions of separation of powers and due process. But during peer review procedures, violations of traditional due process run rampant in the name of informality and collegiality, as they did with the proceedings against Judge Adams in which the Boggs “special committee” investigated and then adjudicated what it had just investigated. By combining its prosecutorial role with its adjudicative role, Boggs’ committee was able to directly or indirectly exclude most of Judge Adams’ evidence and witnesses, while injecting surprise witnesses of its own. [9/14/17 Complnt. Parags 33-42]
In 2005 attorney Ralph M. Bard, formerly a physician, popularized the term “sham peer review” to describe the form of self-policing in which licensing boards, committees, or other bodies use “sham due process”, usually in combination with online psychiatry, to discipline and monitor its members. Typically the targeted physician is presumed guilty of some ethical violation and loses hospital privileges without a hearing. To justify summary license suspension without a hearing, there is supposed to be an emergency justifying immediate license suspension, but often there are not even bare allegations supporting such an emergency. Physicians, possibly due to being members of a more affluent profession than are others, seem to be the most vocal as a group in exposing the abuses of the “sham due process” used to target some of its more creative or outspoken members:
“An accused murderer has a better chance of being acquitted and having a clean record than an accused physician under HCQIA [a federal statute to protect hospital peer review committees, enacted following a successful lawsuit by Dr. Timothy Patrick against an Oregon hospital board found to have targeted him to eliminate him as a competitor [Patrick v. Burget, 486 U.S. 94 (1988) (tripling jury award of $650,000 to $1,950,000)]]. Why? In the case of the murderer,due process is mandatory . . . This is not the case of [sic] the accused physician involved with hospital peer review.” [Source]
The type of peer review Judge Adams is being subjected to by Boggs’ “special committee”, is designed to either drive him out or place him on the type of short leash described in a recent Michigan case exposing the abuses of peer review of health care providers. Michigan health care professionals filed suit for being subjected to a peer review program called Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP) which out-sources a one size-fits-all mental health/substance abuse program to a private entity called Ulliance, Inc. [Lucas v. Ulliance]. Originally touted as a confidential, non-disciplinary approach to helping health care providers suffering from substance abuse or “mental illness” by sparing them the stigma of formal discipline, Michigan’s HRPP evolved into
“a highly punitive and involuntary program where health professionals are forced into extensive and unnecessary substance abuse/dependence treatment under the threat of the arbitrary application of pre-hearing deprivations . . .
Licensees are subjected to intake evaluations by a pre-selected cadre of providers who profit from the enrollment of HPRP members. This process culminates in a large number of health professionals receiving a “Monitoring Agreement” which is essentially a non-negotiable contract for treatment selected by HPRP. . . .licensees generally receive the same across-the-board treatment mandates regardless of their diagnosis or condition”.
In Ohio, there is a similarly income-driven “therapeutic” program where Judge Adams would likely be sent if Judges Boggs and Scirica have their way. The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, Inc. [OLAP] is a private non-profit corporation that appears to have a standing arrangement with the Ohio Supreme Court and other disciplinary bodies to service attorneys and judges believed to be impaired and facing disciplinary action. OLAP encourages judges and lawyers who believe themselves addicted or mentally ill, to sign on to OLAP “voluntarily” and pro-actively – before being forced to do so by a disciplinary board. OLAP’s website promises
“We have no duty to report. No one will ever know you called.” [Source]
If Judge Adams were to turn himself in to OLAP, or be turned in by the “special committee”’s psychiatrist, he would be required to sign up for its “Monitoring & Support”, meaning he would have to
“sign a Recovery Contract with us for a minimum of two years, and up to five years. The contract requires the client to do whatever it takes to get moving in the right direction. . . . For mental illness, this can mean evaluation by a psychiatrist, taking prescribed medications, and individual counseling. We also require telephone contact with us, often daily early on, and then as the client improves, it can be reduced to one or two times per week. Whatever the requirements, the client is required to document what he/she is doing, by providing written verification of attendance at 12-Step meetings, regular reports from therapists, etc.” [Source]
This raises some concerns. How would an OLAP psychiatrist know whether Judge Adams’s decisions were “moving in the right direction”? Would OLAP therapists be required to review Judge Adams’ decisions? With all the therapy attending, drug taking, and daily check-in with OLAP monitors, Judge Adams might have trouble finding the time or energy to complete his full-time duties at the court. Would that be a problem? For the “special committee”, this sounds more like a solution. But these OLAP services must cost something, right? Either Judge Adams himself or Judge Adams and the taxpayer would be paying those costs.
Another problem with sham peer review goes beyond targeting individuals who do not fit their mold. It is also widely viewed as protecting truly dangerous, but politically connected practitioners, while retaliating against colleagues who brought the charges. Pediatrician Mary H. Johnson of Asheboro, North Carolina, fired after reporting a colleague’s bad mismanagement of a newborn, without any discipline being imposed on the colleague, is quoted as having said
‘The abuse of peer review for economic reasons or to perpetuate a cover-up is medicine’s dirtiest little secret’. [Source].
Other peer review systems of self-policing are operating for nurses [11/10/16 interview/Carolyn Huffer], social workers, attorneys, and yes, even for psychologists. Medical boards provide whatever oversight there is over psychiatrists. Readers may recall from Part Three of this series, the kid glove treatment that psychologist Larry James enjoyed from the Ohio State Board of Psychology. Despite over a thousand pages of documentation attached to a Complaint against James due to his participation in torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, Ohio’s Psychology board waited over seven months after receiving the complaint to do anything, then refused to investigate it, claiming without further explanation that it was “unable to proceed to formal action” on the matter.
Police officers and other law enforcement workers may be subject to similar “oversight” by their peers. In addition to the older “internal affairs” departments, such as those New York City police officer and whistleblower Frank Serpico found particularly unhelpful when he was nearly killed for refusing to take bribes during the 1960’s, police oversight on the front end takes the form of a “fitness for duty exam” [FFDE]. The FFDE is the method by which prospective, and even current employees are psychiatrically evaluated, supposedly to determine fitness for duty. The Constitution-based power of judges and police review boards to order psychiatric evaluations of police officers, firemen, and applicants is far from clear. As in other areas of law, there are too many cases contradicting one another to provide meaningful guidance as to one’s rights. [Source] With the widespread usage of psychological evaluations for police officers and applicants in the last decade or two, many might wonder why police are killing citizens at the current level.
Academic freedom seems to offer no protection for academicians subjected to sham peer review. Back in the days of human rights, there was at least some recourse. In Stewart v. Pearce, 484 F.2d 1031,1034 (9th Cir. 1973) a federal appeal court upheld an order blocking a proposed psychiatric evaluation of an academician:
“The order by the college to report for a psychiatric examination implied that there existed both reasonable grounds for the order and mental unfitness for the job. Moreover, the order created a stigma, an official branding of [the plaintiff].”
Late last year, a Rutgers University professor was forced into a psychiatric evaluation for posting an anti-Second Amendment tweet involving hypothetically shooting white people to make a point about gun control. Psychiatrists quickly found him quite sane. Earlier this year, according to Judge Elizabeth Fahey, police took a Harvard doctoral student by force from his home in front of his visiting parents. Police use of force was occasioned by what turned out to be a retaliatory mental illness accusation by his mentor, another scientist. Although the PhD student was only detained a few hours and the evaluator found nothing amiss with his mental health, the repercussions for all involved were extensive.
Even if your job does not involve a license, your employer could still target you for a psychological evaluation. Not only could you be found to be psychologically incapable of doing the job you had been doing well for many years, your failure to pass muster with the employer’s peer review psychologist or psychiatrist is likely to follow you for the life of your career, or whatever is left of it. Since psychiatry is fully capable of using the DSM to diagnose anyone with one from their growing list of “diagnoses” catalogued in the DSM, anyone can easily be diagnosed.
IV. SELF POLICING – IS IT TO PROTECT US THE PEOPLE?
Human history is riddled with examples of organized group oppression of the individual from an in-group of his peers – always for the claimed betterment of the larger society, of course. Ostracism and banishment of inconvenient people goes back at least as far as the third century before Christ in Greece. [Hoover, J., Milner, C “Rituals of humiliation and exclusion”] Short of execution, banishment from the community is one of the most extreme forms of dehumanizing attacks by a community against an individual. In some groups, such as the Old Order Amish, shunning (Meidung in German) prevents individuals from pursuing their livelihood, as traditional ways of earning depended on social relationships [Id].
Even the extreme of human sacrifice has been practiced at one time or other in virtually every corner of the globe. The official version of the reason for human sacrifice- to pacify the gods – is now being questioned. Ritual murder can make the elite group more cohesive and dramatically facilitate in-group power grabs. New Zealand researchers have found anecdotal evidence that
‘ritual killings helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors and the large, stratified societies we live in today’. [Id]
Human sacrifice appears to have constituted some form of “shock and awe” to enable the few to control the many. Hierarchical decision-making furthers that process, too.
As ritual murder achieved many of those purposes, its practice may have declined, but other rituals replace it. The term “hazing” does not quite serve the same functions as other forms of public humiliation but Justice Douglas used the term to describe what Judge Chandler’s fellow judges were doing to Judge Chandler in 1970. True hazing can act to bond the initiate into the new order, extending the old order to newer members. Hazing typically happens consensually, as an initiation, and therefore is expected to be temporary. Hazing does not accurately describe prolonged ordeals imposed on Judge Adams and Judge Chandler. Judge Adams has been on the bench for 14 years, the last nine being fraught with escalating threats and tensions. There was no consent and no expectation that the process would be temporary.
“Mobbing”, a term coined by authors Maureen Duffy and Len Sperry, may be more descriptive of the spectacle in the Northern District of Ohio. Mobbing describes a form of group-on-individual humiliation ritual that is more prolonged than hazing and is aimed specifically at driving the target from the group. [Source]
Whether the process is termed mobbing, bullying, shunning, gang-stalking, scapegoating, ex-communication or lynching, the perpetrating group typically shares certain features with the larger society and the target:
- The target is publicly humiliated – often being called upon to participate in his own shaming;
- the spectacle arouses community members’ fears of not belonging, adding to the in-group’s cohesiveness and power; and
- targets are singled out for their real or perceived differences, even when those attributes are desired traits.
Congressman Ken Buck (R-Co), first elected in 2014, describes a current version of ritual humiliation he and fellow freshmen congressmen now experience within the halls of Congress. When they refused to pay to play and insisted on keeping promises to voters, they were publicly scolded by members of their own parties, stripped of committee positions, and even denied dining room privileges. [easyazon_link identifier="1621576388" locale="US" tag="natblaze-20"]Source[/easyazon_link]
As much as membership in a group can be desirable, even life-sustaining, we can no longer entertain the fantasy that group decisions will do anything to reverse the stratification of society brought on from centuries of hierarchical abuse of the individual – including human sacrifice. The brutality of group behavior was brought into sharp focus in the 1970’s with the publicity surrounding Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. Within a matter of days, that experiment had to be stopped when an outsider observed that test subjects, who did not know each other previously, became so caught up in playing the role of prison guards that they had quickly sunk to the lowest moral denominator in the prison guard group and begun committing Abu Ghraib-type abuses against test subjects randomly assigned the role of prisoners.[Source] Group dynamics were such that they superseded individual ethics and morality.
In 1972 Irving L Janis published a highly influential book in which he coined the term groupthink to describe the tendencies of groups to make catastrophic decisions. Janis’s definition of groupthink is paraphrased as being:
“an excessive form of concurrence- seeking among members of high prestige, tightly knit policy-making groups. It is excessive to the extent that group members have come to value the group (and their being part of it) higher than anything else. This causes them to strive for a quick and painless unanimity on the issues the group has to confront. To preserve the clubby atmosphere, group members suppress personal doubts, silence dissenters, and follow the group leader’s suggestions. . . . The results are devastating: a distorted view of reality, excessive optimism producing hasty and reckless policies, and a neglect of ethical issues. The combination of these deficiencies make these groups particularly vulnerable to initiate or sustain projects that turn out to be policy fiascoes.” [p. 247]
It is the cohesiveness of the group that is its strength but also its greatest weakness. Cohesiveness can flourish despite some antagonisms between group members, who generally sacrifice critical thinking, creativity and integrity to remain well-regarded within the group. [Id. P. 254] Groupthink continues to be researched for its role, among others, in public policy fiascoes. One type of groupthink, which can occur during a crisis-induced stress situation, is believed to have led to Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs invasion. [Id. p. 258] Another form of groupthink, based on collective zeal to seize a perceived opportunity has been associated with the Poindexter-McFarland-North arms-for-hostages decision, fueled by the group’s unrealistic sense of invulnerability. [Id. p.266]
Even those who favor group over individual decisions, recognize that group dynamics are empirically found to lead to disaster. Despite his apparently strong belief in the value of groups, researcher Cass Sunstein concedes that groups (1)not only fail to correct their errors, members reinforce each others’ views and amplify those errors; (2) group members go along with “common wisdom” despite more relevant or accurate information known only to a few in the group; (3) group members tend to take up more extreme positions than they had before group deliberations as they reinforce one another’s biases; and (4) dissent is viewed as disloyalty and its lessons ignored. Despite the admitted pervasiveness of these dynamics, Sunstein suggests that behavioral techniques be used to prop up groupthink and improve its results.
Other groupthink scholars, while recognizing the value of teamwork, especially when limited to exchanging ideas and managing information, and especially when the collaboration is done remotely, as by Internet, find that more real work gets done and more creativity gets expressed – in solitude. Workers in an open floor plan workplace usually find the physical presence of others distracting, slowing down their accomplishments measurably, reports Susan Cain, author of the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Yet the trend is in the direction of more groups, more collaboration, more “consensus building”. Cain describes what she observed in an elementary school classroom in the U.S:
“students engaged in group work were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the very same question.”
One of the complaints the Boggs’ “special committee” had about Judge Adams was that he was not spending much time in committee meetings. Judge Adams was apparently writing his decisions working alone in his office. While his solitude may have made his legal opinions admittedly “very good”, it may have alienated him from fellow judges who seem to have been having meetings and attending ceremonies.
Elaborate peer review and its associated cottage industries are definitely expanding into all fields of endeavor. As they impose their will on more occupations, ostensibly to protect the public, no one is asking why members of the public themselves are not allowed to sit on juries to decide whether we the people need the protection. Certainly ordinary jurors are fully capable of evaluating expert testimony from attorneys and judges, just as they already do in many criminal and civil cases involving expert testimony. While juries have historically had their own problems with groupthink, most jurors come in with the expectation that group membership is temporary, thereby reducing the dumbing-down effect of cohesiveness.
When it comes to the decision about keeping or casting aside a lone wolf member from any occupation, juries of randomly selected ordinary citizens seem to offer at least what Frank Serpico calls “outside accountability”. After failing at efforts to obtain that accountability from police internal affairs and prosecutor groups, Serpico and New York City residents finally received it for a brief period of time in 1972. It came in the form of a commission directed by independent federal Judge Whitman Knapp. It would seem that when it comes to questions of judicial misconduct, a randomly selected group of citizen jurors, rather than political appointees, could provide an even greater degree of independence and public credibility to such investigations. Citizens may want to ask themselves: if my job depended on the opinions of the gang at work would I want outside accountability?
About the author: An inactive attorney who practiced over 30 years in the courts of Oklahoma and Ohio, Katherine Hine is now with WLJA radio [www.wljaradio.net] and www.blogtalkradio.com/ hosting bi-monthly broadcasts exposing the illegalities of forced psychiatry and the consequences of our current lack of judicial accountability. She continues to serve as executive director of the Ross County Network for Children in Ohio and chapter co-president of the Ohio branch of FCLU [Families Civil Liberties Union]. In 2008-2009 Hine was instrumental in utilizing citizen initiative to rid the City of Chillicothe, Ohio of its traffic cameras. She has authored articles critical of forced psychiatry: http://columbusfreepress.com/; http://columbusfreepress.com/, a book review: http://www.activistpost.com/ and one article addressing retaliation against mandated reporters: Expose: The Failure of Family Courts to Protect Children. She can be reached at [email protected].
About the author: An inactive attorney who practiced over 30 years in the courts of Oklahoma and Ohio, Katherine Hine is now with WLJA radio and Hidden Truth Revealed at BlogTalkRadio hosting bi-monthly broadcasts exposing the illegalities of forced psychiatry and the consequences of our current lack of judicial accountability. She continues to serve as executive director of the Ross County Network for Children in Ohio and chapter co-president of the Ohio branch of FCLU [Families Civil Liberties Union]. In 2008-2009 Hine was instrumental in utilizing citizen initiative to rid the City of Chillicothe, Ohio of its traffic cameras. She has authored articles critical of forced psychiatry: One Flew Out of the New Cuckoo’s Nest: Forced Psychiatry in Ohio – Instrument of Political Repression? and Forced Psychiatry in Ohio Part Two: “Treatment” or “Lifelong Punishment,” a book review: GUARDIANSHIP: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money and one article addressing retaliation against mandated reporters: Expose: The Failure of Family Courts to Protect Children. She can be reached at [email protected].