Intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse and Forensic Psychiatrists

  • Alan J. Tuckman
Part of the Critical Issues in American Psychiatry and the Law book series (CIAP, volume 4)


The evaluation of a child sexual abuse (CSA) case brings with it many conflicting problems, caused by the roles the forensic psychiatrist assumes in the judicial system and by the highly complex material being dealt with. As psychiatrists and presumed humanitarians, we want to aid and protect these helpless, victimized children, at times, speaking for them because they often cannot speak or fight for themselves. Yet, we know all too well the fallibility of psychiatry in applying its expertise to certain legal issues. Psychiatry has a long history of jumping into an issue (or being pulled in by the courts), only to find itself over its head, embarrassed that it promised more than it could deliver.1 Examples included the offer to rehabilitate offenders, to predict dangerousness of the mentally and criminally ill, to use hypnosis in “refreshing” lost memories, in order to identify material that can be used in criminal prosecution,2 and to predict which murderers would murder again and should be put to death.3


Sexual Abuse Child Abuse Child Sexual Abuse False Allegation Alleged Abuser 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Robitscher J: The Powers of Psychiatry. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1980.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rock v Arkansas, 288 Ark. 566 (1986).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barefoot v Estelle,463 U. S. 880 (1983).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Social Seris. v Bertha C. -N.Y.- 130 Misc. 2d 1043 (1986).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kempe C, et al: The Battered Child Syndrome. JAMA 181: 17–24, 1962.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Burgess A, Holmstrom L: Rape Trauma Syndrome. Am J Psychiatry 131: 981–986, 1974.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Burgess A, Holmstrom L: Sexual trauma of children adolescents: Pressure, sex secrecy. Nursing Clinics of North America 10: 551–563, 1975.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sgroi S: Sexual molestation of children: The last frontier in child abuse. Child Today 4: 44, 1975.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ed 3., Washington DC, Author, 1980, pp 236–239.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sgroi S: Sexual molestation of children: The last frontier in child abuse. Child Today 4: 1821, 1975.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mann E: The assessment of credibility of sexually abused children in criminal court cases.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mann E: The assessment of credibility of sexually abused children in criminal court cases. 6: 9–15, 1985.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Matter of Tara H,129 Misc 2d 508 N.Y. (1985).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Matter of Michael G,129 Misc 2d 186 N.Y. (1985).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    N.Y. Family Court Act Para. 1046 (a) (vi).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    People v Dow 34 AD 2d 224, 229 (1970).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hawaii v Kim 64 Hawaii 598 P2d 1330 (1982).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bursten, B. Detecting child abuse by studying the parents. Bull Am Aced Psychiatry Law 13: 273–281, 1985.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Milner JS, Wimberly RC: Prediction and explanation of child abuse. J Clin Psychol 36: 875–885, 1980.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Renshaw D: When you suspect child sex abuse: Take the child’s sexual history. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, June 1986, pp 19–24.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Summit R: The child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. Child Abuse and Neglect 7: 177–193, 1983.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Schaeffer P: Child custody-visitation disputes spawn allegations of sex abuse. Clinical Psychiatry News 14: 3, December 1986.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Green A: True and false allegations of sexual abuse in child custody disputes. J Am Acad Child Psychiatry 25: 449–456, 1986.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cohen R: The trust goes only so far. Editorial, N.Y. Newsday, December 16, 1986.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Nurcombe B: The child as witness: Competency and credibility. J Am Acad Child Psychiatry 25: 473–480, 1986.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bernstein B, Claman L: Modern technology and the child witness. Child Welfare, 65: 155–163, March-April, 1986.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Claman L, et al: The adolescent as a witness in a case of incest: Assessment outcome. J Am Acad Child Psychiatry 25: 457–461, 1986.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan J. Tuckman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Forensic Psychiatry ClinicRockland CountyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations