Commentary: 1982 Was AAPL's year of living dangerously

Joseph D. Bloom, Daniel W. Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In 1982, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) was a growing and ambitious professional organization. Its membership was a small but vigorous group united by the desire to develop the emerging psychiatric subspecialty of forensic psychiatry within the larger context of psychiatry. The organization was 13 years old. It was devoted to the goal of uplifting the practice of forensic psychiatry in the United States through continuing education and specialty training. AAPL was well positioned to achieve its goal. Its leaders were fairly single-minded and many were strategically placed within the hierarchy of the American Psychiatric Association. Subspecialty recognition within psychiatry and medicine appeared attainable. Then came the United States v. Hinckley case. Every aspect of the case was controversial: the facts of the case itself, the use of the insanity defense, the contradictory psychiatric testimony and, finally, the verdict. Forensic psychiatry was put on the defensive, and at the height of the controversy the former President of the American Psychiatric Association and the nation's most prominent Professor of Law and Psychiatry delivered a simple luncheon speech. As is evident from this article and from this edition of the Journal, now, some 25 years later, we are still talking about what he had to say.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-180
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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