GDG- Now: CW PTSD was: Custer: G'burg, LBH & Philbrick

Michael DiLauro madpd2001 at
Fri Jan 20 17:07:07 CST 2012

At the risk of going off-topic let me try this...
Having handled about a 1/2 dozen NGRI cases over the years the challenge always is having your expert shrink or psychologist reconstruct the defendant's state of mind at the time the crime was committed. (Although I had a case once where the client went to see a shrink somewhere between the 1st and 3rd murders. As an expert witness he was allowed to opine about the defendant's condition at the time he examined him but could not render an opinion on the ultimate issue of NGRI.)
The 'lookback' is done via a psychiatric examination which includes 1) interviewing the defendant 2) reviewing prior treatment records if they exist 3) talking to friends and family members about D's behavior 4) sometimes neuropsychological testing and MRI. With an adequate evidentiary foundation and properly qualified expert he/she can speak to D's state of mind at the time of the crime and the ultimate issue of whether D meets legal criteria for NGRI. And I'm pretty sure that PTSD is a recognized psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM IV.
Now for our ACW friends alot of this stuff is impossible due to the passage of time and lack of technology. Also what was the state of medical record keeping at the time of the ACW and thereafter? If decent then there could be alot of good information that would speak to the issue of PTSD. And of course any recollections of friends, family members, co-workers, etc. would be very valuable, as it is today.
>From a legal standpoint a historian would not be qualified to speak to the issue. But a shrink or psychologist with an interest in history would certainly be qualified to speak to the issues involved in any serious treatment of the issue.
Finally, my physicians assistant is an ACW buff and got me involved in the RICWRT. I will ask him the next time I'm in to see him with my annual winter sinus infection.
Mike DiLauro

More information about the Gettysburg mailing list