Art on Trial: Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases.pdf

Art on Trial: Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases.pdf


A man kidnaps his two children, murders one, and attempts to kill the other. The prosecution seeks the death penalty, while the defense employs an unusual strategy to avoid the sentence. The defendant's attorneys turn to more than 100 examples of his artwork, created over many years, to determine whether he was mentally ill at the time he committed the crimes. Detailing an outstanding example of the use of forensic art therapy in a capital murder case, David Gussak, an art therapist contracted by the defense to analyze the images that were to be presented as evidence, recounts his findings and his testimony in court, as well as the future implications of his work for criminal proceedings. Gussak describes the role of the art therapist as an expert witness in a murder case, the way to use art as evidence, and the conclusions and assessments that professionals can draw from a defendant's artworks. He examines the effectiveness of expert testimony as communicated by the prosecution, defense, and court, and weighs the moral, ethical, and legal consequences of relying on such evidence. For professionals and general readers, this gripping volume presents a convincing account of the ability of art to reflect a damaged and dangerous psyche. A leading text on an emerging field, Art on Trial demonstrates the practical applications of an innovative approach to clinical assessment and treatment.

Art on Trial is a testament to the potent power of art as evidence. David Gussak's masterful presentation of the case, the client, and the art explains the role and value of art therapy in a court of law. His book is a triumph for art as evidence, expounding the value of art therapists as expert witnesses in legal proceedings as well as the advantages that art therapy offers. -- Marcia Liebman, Drexel University David Gussak has written a fascinating and important first-person account demonstrating the value of art therapy in the courtroom. His book represents an extraordinary interdisciplinary effort and will surely become a must-read for professionals in the fields of art therapy, criminology, and abnormal psychology. -- Jack Levin, Northeastern University, author of Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers: Up Close and Personal and, with Gordana Rabrenovic, Why We Hate

David E. Gussak, Ph.D., ATR-BC, is chair of the Department of Art Education and clinical coordinator of the Graduate Art Therapy Program at Florida State University. He has published and lectured extensively on the use of art therapy in correctional settings and with violent and aggressive clients.

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Assessments, Art Therapy, and ForensicsPart I. Art and the Murderer: A Case Study1. How It Began2. The Jailhouse Meeting3. More Art and the Follow-upPart II. Defending the Art4. The Deposition5. The TestimonyPart III. Analysis and Implications6. The Case Study: Summary, Reflections, and Ethics7. Art Therapists as Expert Witnesses: Three More Capital Cases8. Forensic Art Therapy RevisitedReferences


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