Testing Limits or Criminality? Forgiveness in your time line – Mental Health Assessments.

Testing Limits or Criminality? Forgiveness in your time line – Mental Health Assessments.

…. are you a thief?

Do you remember stealing cookies from the cookie jar? Even though your mom told you you couldn’t have a cookie?
Or going for a walk and stealing an apple from a neighbour’s tree or berries from their garden, without asking?
How about bubble gum from a variety store that your mom or dad wouldn’t give you money for?

…. are you an addict?

Did you ever sneak out after curfew and go to a friend’s party?
Or tell the bartender or wait staff you were (insert adult age allowed to drink 18-21), even though you knew it was illegal?
How about taking a hit off that joint going round at the campfire night?

… are you a fraud?

Did you ever work ‘under the table’?
Did you ever use a friend’s ID?
Did you ever ‘forget’ a tax receipt so you could get more back?

….. are you a pathological liar?

Did you ever call in sick cuzz you went to a party last night?
Did you ever kiss someone not your spouse and not tell your partner?
Did you ever lie when a cop asked if you knew where your friend was?

….. do you resent authority?

Did you ever book off class without a good reason?
Did you tell your parents you didn’t have homework when you did?
Did you ever lie when you were in trouble with a parent or teacher?
Do you vote?


It’s these type of questions that can start a profile in psych inventories, and if the profiler doesn’t catch them, you can end up looking like quite the budding criminal, but are you?

  • Have you ever been charged with a crime?
  • Have you ever been jailed?


It’s obv not quite that easy. But depending on what other reporters say about you, it can trigger such an issue. So who is talking about you? The CAS social worker who thinks you’re a bad parent? The foster parent who doesn’t like you and wants to adopt your kid? The cop who thinks you committed a crime? Your family who is looking for a scapegoat? The doctor who is looking for funding on his specialty and thinks you’d make a cool test case?

NB please don’t feel you have to answer any of the questions in this post. It’s just themed to make my point.

Separating the Mind and the Body – Mental Health Assessments

Separating the Mind and the Body – Mental Health Assessments

Chronic pain/ health conditions and personality disorders often get mixed up in medical and psychological assessments. By people who should know better. There are common aspects of each: lack of energy, self esteem, self image and trust issues, changing social supports/withdrawal from society, difficulty sustaining social supports and activities, and career or education tracks, mood control issues (feeling sad, angry, worried, hopeless, alone), lack of concentration, brain fog…..

The difference is often distinguishable by chronic pain having some beginning; an illness or injury, or a genetic history. Personality disorders do too, but they aren’t necessarily within the lifetime of the person who is being currently evaluated. Since they begin for this person when they are being reared (bonding, intimacy, trust, self esteem, mood control), it can often be understood that someone (how many?) else in the family also has them. Due to a genetic issue &/or a common family crisis. ie death of a parent, alcoholism of a parent, jailing of an older sibling or parent, GBV in the family group…..Or a common social/environmental issue; ie. war, poverty.

And to turn that around, there are chronic health issues such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis that are linked to family distress. Esp incest and battery.


So knowing that, how do you challenge the tests? What does it take to separate what is going on with this person? I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe you can separate them. Which makes me question if inventories are the best way to assess someone? Esp considering what the stakes are (long term incarceration, in some places death sentences, loss of custody of children) and that the people doing them aren’t medically trained. They also often side with social workers &/or cops with an agenda/biases. Which affects the reading of the inventories’ results. Even if they send them out for a computer reading. Yet this is the standard of care that courts rely on.


Would there be a better method? No matter which assessment you are involved with someone has to do the work, and they all have their own agenda. Some are better educated than others, unequal. And all tests need to be read, interpreted.


Plus contrary to popular opinion, not all psychiatric/psychological issues have biological markers that a test would pick up. Though there are quite a few that do. So maybe it’s a matter of ruling them out?


And contrary to popular opinion, malingering to get out of trouble isn’t a frequent thing. Neither are things like hypochondriasis, or Munchausen’s syndrome. People lie and try to fluff their presentation when in the presence of authority. But that isn’t the same as a pathological lying display. Yet many assessors believe that is what they’re looking at. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

So it’s confusing. And oh so needed to figure this out.

Q – What is Culture? Mental Health Assessments

Q – What is Culture? Mental Health Assessments

IDK if you’ve ever done a mental health questionnaire? But they sneak some queries in there about what you believe to be true. To see if you’re engaging in magical thinking, understand what is real or false, perception.

For eg, If you believe in things like ‘laying on of hands’, reiki, healing by massage, acupressure or intimate touch, you run the risk of being seen as one who believes in odd things. In western medicine, these things aren’t effective. They might be considered as palliative or supportive measures, but that’s about it. Yet in eastern medicine, they’re common treatments.

And those kind of things can lead to a profile on the schizophrenic scale.

So what does Western medicine see as ‘culture’? Judao-Christian, white, mostly protestant, the white bread lack of faith where you go to services on high holidays only and pray when you’re upset? And the divine is some guy up in the sky who threatens you with annihilation if you have a good time? Pretty much yes.

But how much of the people of the world would ID as that? Not enough to say it’s insanity to not believe that.

Yet in North America esp, that is what you are held up to and if you don’t believe it, you’re ill.

How is that fair? Or an honest assessment?


This is why there is a strong anti-psychiatry movement again. That and feminists argue that women should be judged by a feminine standard rather than a bunch of male college students or male prisoners, Women show their anger and fear in different ways than men do. We have different experiences of intelligence and education/work/relationships than men do. We see the world differently. Which isn’t a bad thing. So why are we judged and found wanting?

But we are, and since we are, we end up being diagnosed with mental illnesses more than men are. Well. partly that, and partly because when we feel off, we go seek out help sooner.


And that’s white women, what about LGBTQ? BIPOC? It’s no great surprise that they end up in institutions more, whether prisons or hospitals, and their kids end up in foster care more. Is it?


So what can we do to change this? Is it even possible?

A Common Coercion Prototype in Crime Stats – My S.O made me do it!

A Common Coercion Prototype in Crime Stats – My S.O made me do it!

Though the title is less gender-specific, the history is one that a lot of female prisoners have as their history. egs.

  • their BF/spouse is their pimp
  • battered spouse syndrome
  • they were co-abuser or neglecting parent to their kids
  • financial fraud and scams

Women and girls who are convinced to participate in crimes by their S.O.

  • Because women and girls don’t have the same education and career earning opps?
  • Because women and girls are socialized to be with a partner, and stay with them?


  • Because they’re high and more easily manipulated?
  • Because they’re battered and too scared to say no?
  • Because their partner is at them every day, undermining their decision making ability and self-esteem?
  • Because the grooming happens over time, till one day they realize how deep the hole they’re in is?


And it can end up where she is the only one who serves time.


What can we as a society do to build women and girls up so they can stand alone, recognize the red flags when they see them and leave, or at least not get caught up in his criminal activity?
How do we support a woman or girl when she reports his bad acts? Do we call her crazy, or do we offer her a deal? And at what point do we say, yeah not for that. (Paul and Karla Bernardo) and say that she has to atone for her own behaviour. Or recognize that she might actually be the instigator and the one who coerces him?


Where is feminism in this? Do we have programs for female addicts and our needs? (No we don’t – Not outside a recovery centre or female only institution) Do we have programs for women and girls who get caught up with the wrong group or partner and end up in a world of hurt? Do the courts and prisons have programs for this defence?

Mostly the system ‘blames and shames’ rather than recognizing that coercion is a really destructive force, esp when someone is more fragile and has a harder time recognizing right/wrong, or is continuing a familial pattern with their partner(s) and kid(s). Like addictions and incest &/or DV.

How do we support the woman or girl before she is at the bottom of the hole? To recognize early warnings and detach herself from the coercion, if not her partner?


If you recognize this in your own life, in Canada we have an organization called the Elizabeth Fry Society who work with female issues within the criminal justice system. They will and can help. It’s their whole reason for being.

Poverty, Desperation & Influence – When the Group(s) are the Criminals. Not so much the Individuals.

Poverty, Desperation & Influence – When the Group(s) are the Criminals. Not so much the Individuals.

Most of what I know about crime is an extension of group dynamics. Whether it’s

  • family, spouses, DV, incest (addictions)
  • cults who bully members or ex members,
  • gangs who run drugs, weapons, prostitutes…
  • terrorist cells & orgs who fearmonger civilians
  • oppressive nations & empires who keep the poor poor
  • large corporations who enslave the workers using capitalistic aims


And often the way to bring them down (or at least control them) is by following the money. You find out how they are linked, who the hierarchy are, and can even stop the flow of supportive cash when they are uncooperative with authority and not open to education or treatment.

Most people presume that cash and carry works to stop govt or police tracking money as it travels, or using bitcoin or crypto-currency will stop that oversight. But if you look at your paper money, you’ll see the tracking number. It can be followed from printer to bank to store and even to purchase date and time at the register. Even bitcoin and crypto-currency have businesses who have lists of members, if not their individual activity logs. So with that tracker number, the police can follow it’s path of use.

And this is the point where the paranoid people get all anti-govt and anti-bank. But they don’t particularly care if you as an individual are buying a few lottery tickets or a bottle of wine when you have a friend over for supper. That isn’t criminal activity. And even if you stole a loaf of bread (which is criminal, but not organized crime), they don’t care about that either. Not at the level of crime where group activity is monitored. Unless you steal for Fagin, but they’d be watching him not you. (Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens reference)

They don’t really care who you vote for either. They’d prefer it was them… but they’d also prefer to convince you, in a free nation. Or gerrymander the voting districts to line up with populations and seats in the house and senate.

The larger purpose is to watch the group, not the individuals.


Groups try to convince (saying: don’t worry we’re family, we protect each other, it’s easy money, no one cares about this thing, no they can’t find you or us, yeah we’ll help you if you’re caught) people to work with them in their criminal activity. And the people they go after are impressionable, lonely, poor/desperate, easily controlled and easily influenced. They recruit you when times are tough. They move into neighbourhoods and take it over. Going after the young esp and training them into the group’s needs and way of life.

Their engagements are coercive, manipulative, deceptive and harmful in bigger ways than just the criminal activity they ask of you. They break the heart of the community and normal attachments like faith, job, family and school. They undermine trust in people and community leaders. Which their vulnerable targets are more likely to be receptive to. Which makes it harder to break the ties of the criminal group and it’s members. And they cause shame in the members and the community.

They protect the hierarchy against contact with the rabble, corruption by community leaders, and police detection. And leave the local members to be arrested and deal with the fall out of their criminal enterprise. So the only way to catch them is by following the money trails.


Which is why some govts have laws about racketeering (profiting from crime). egs Canada, USA, UK….

Which is why the police were able to catch Al Capone. Which is why DAs in NYC are going after Trump on things like tax evasion. Even if they can’t get him on inciting insurgence or sedition.

Even if it depersonalizes the crime and makes the harm a financial transaction instead of broken lives, it catches the group leaders instead of just the members.

The Purpose of Defence

The Purpose of Defence

I know it’s really hard for us to consider when we are looking at trials for serial murders and rapists, and people we ‘know’ are guilty. But defence lawyers are there to protect the judicial system as much as they are the accused.

Defence lawyers:

  • research cases that are similar and in countries where the rule of law is about community standards and precedents set, this helps the judge to rule and to advise the jury.
  • make sure the police have behaved
  • make sure the crown/district has a case and has proved it
  • make sure their client is able to deal with and understand what is going on, and if they aren’t, to get them properly evaluated.

If they aren’t necessary, and the system is perfect, why are there innocent people who have spent years in prison? Why are BIPOC the greater majority of the residents in prisons/jails, for longer terms? Or in foster care?


But are they the angels of the court? Or part of the problem? Because whether they are elected or appointed, the courts are political structures. It’s the same as the HoC having an opposition party. It may seem like all they are is a nuisance, but what would it be like without them? So are they a necessary evil?


How do we see that defence is an honourable position and fund them accordingly? So the poor, frail and BIPOC aren’t rushed into a system that will misuse them for labour (whether public or private institutions) , sterilize the frail and women, abuse them and neglect their well being to the point where far too many die (even outside a pandemic).


In a call for defunding the police and the abolition of the prison system, what else can be offered?

Q – By whose standards are you a problem? – Mental Health POV

Q – By whose standards are you a problem? – Mental Health POV

  • Were you the kid who obeyed your parents? Helped with chores, was in at curfew, helped with younger kids? Did you sit with grandparents or elderly aunts and uncles and hear their stories? Did you do your homework?

When parents are busy with their relationship, other kids, jobs/careers, how much attention do you need?

  • Were you the kid who acted up in school? The bully or the shy one? The daydreamer or the kid who had their hand up first? Were you a loner or the popular kid?

In a crowd of 20 – 40 kids in class, the teacher is looking for a controllable child, who follows directions well and behaves, even if they’re out of the room for a minute.

  • When you worked, were you self motivated, at work on time, did all your tasks, rarely ever took time off for holidays, sick time, parental leave?

Companies and bosses want to do their own work, not have to make sure you’re doing yours.

  • Did you attend services and give money to your religion? Did you participate in events and education opps? Did you participate in decision making?

Faith practices are supposed to be as members of a community. To buffer each other from the outside world and support each other in daily life struggles. The leaders want to count your head in the group. To know they can come to you if the group needs something. To know who you are.

  • Do you have friends? Do your friends count on you for parties and fun? Or are you also the one they count on when they need support?
  • Do your neighbours think you’re weird, rude, noisy, nosy, a gossip or a fun person to be around? Ready with a pie for bake sales, a BBQ night to gather, a dancer at a street party, someone who often adds to the kitty when there is a fund drive. Or isolated.
  • Do you know the rules of etiquette and civil behaviour? Can you adapt with the situation and people in it? Can you manage your own moods/self soothe? Or do you need something to help you control them?

….. People are often selfish.

People and your relationships with them are often what makes you stumble in life. Many are unpredictable, moody, critical and demanding. And they expect you to be what they want, vs your best self. Many are worried and sad, at least at times and want your support, whether you have it to give or not. And few return it when you need it.

Yes your groups and how you interact with the members are important, but can you also stand alone if you need to?

When the social workers or police go out collecting stories about you for an evaluation, they come to the people nearby and ask what they think of you. So have you ever thought of what they’d hear?

Morality vs Function – Do you know what the difference between ‘right or wrong’ is?

Morality vs Function – Do you know what the difference between ‘right or wrong’ is?

Whatever your answer is, I bet it’s well geared into your childhood/family and which group (culture, society, nation, neighbourhood) you were raised in. Right or wrong is subjective. Yet this is the distinction between sanity or insanity in many jurisdictions. And it can and does affect your ability to keep your freedom, custody of your kids, job/career path and if caught, where you serve your sentence. And it seems so esoteric. Linked to such questions as

  • do you believe in God or the Devil?
  • Will you go to heaven or hell?
  • Do you attend services?

And some things are situational.

  • If you’re poor and hungry, can you steal food?
    Just because you’re poor, can someone steal your kids or sterilize you? Or throw you in a cell? The realistic answer is yes, yes they can. And do.

But what about function?

What kind of questions are relevant there?
It’s more along the lines of

(a) life skills

  • Do you sleep?
  • Are you eating sensibly?
  • Do you leave your underage kids home alone?
  • Can you manage your own moods?

(b) PTSD

How long will recovery take?
What was the trigger and what therapies are available?
Are you compliant?
Do you self medicate?

(c) vulnerability/chronic illness & pain

  • Is this due to medical &/or mental health issues?
    Chronic pain and personality disorders are similar in display, so you need a proper medical work up.
  • Would you do better if you were properly supported? And can you access those supports? Have you sought them out?
    There are things like waiting lists, ltd resources and poverty. And these often impede a person, no matter how eager they are to comply. Do they get punished for lack of availability? Sadly, yes they do.


We presume that the person being assessed is being tried in their group of origin or a similar one and that isn’t always true.
Which is why it’s critical to include cultural representatives to speak to the morality and situational ethics expected by the group (what is ‘normal’?)
And to use the WHO’s ICD 10/11 tools rather than the DSM 5/6


And the witnesses to their ‘breakdown’ or vulnerability should actually see the person frequently. Have known them for some time. So they can speak to any significant changes. And be someone other than family. Because many of the reasons a person is so frail they are in front of the court are due to their rearing, &/or family distress.

the profiler/ the tests &/or interview

These are dependent on which court is involved and what the allegations are. And interpretation is dependent on the skill of the ‘expert’. But they typically look at history , intelligence and mood stability/perception.

Capital Punishment Defences – Insanity, Lack of Intelligence, Undue Influence, and Duress

Capital Punishment Defences – Insanity, Lack of Intelligence, Undue Influence, and Duress

  • Caveat – Canada as a nation does not have capital punishment. Nor do we send people who flee here back to nations that would take their life for a crime. That doesn’t mean we let them off the hook. It doesn’t mean we would accept them as a refugee either. But if asked, we might look into the case.

It isn’t just innocence that makes us balk at this concept. Though we have had some famous cases of people who spent years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Imagine if we had killed them, and found out later they were innocent?

We also know that ‘evidence’ can be misread, tampered with, lost and ‘witnesses’ and ‘experts’ can be biased and have their own agenda. And we know that there is so much unknown as yet of the brain and it’s ‘reasoning’ or ‘motives’, so when you use words like ‘forethought’ or ‘malicious intent’, you could be ascribing motives the person just doesn’t have or isn’t even capable of. And we also know that intelligence is a social factor that is aligned to poverty and resources, not strictly mental capacity.

Capital punishment is also not a deterrent, nor is it cost effective vs a prison or treatment ‘sentence’. It does nothing but implement revenge. Someone may have planned to kill someone (first degree murder), yet been well within their rights and responsibilities to do so. Or they may at the time have not been exercising moral or sound judgement, yet not been technically insane or inebriated (high on drugs or alcohol).

It’ also doesn’t show a good model, when the govt can with sound judgement act in revenge, without considering if the person was under duress or incapable of sound judgement and could have recovered or been treated but we denied them that avenue. How do we show we have good morals?

Which is why Canada as a nation, and the majority of it’s citizens have decided not to practice this. Though sometimes we have cases that truly do affect our emotions and our standing on this. But the role of the govt is to be calm and show thought, not enact revenge.

….. relevant questions

  • Is the person capable of rational judgement?
    (the answer to this is no or they wouldn’t have gone to the lengths of murdering someone. There is obv a flaw)
  • Were they coerced or manipulated into their actions?
  • Are they a risk to society?
    (the answer to this is unknown – Could the same string of events, influences and feelings about them reoccur? This requires predictive analysis or a crystal ball)
  • Is there another way to deal with this case?
    (the answer to this is yes, since we have forensic treatments available. and secure facilities)
  • Is justice fair and impartial?
    (no or we wouldn’t have more poor male BIPOC inhabitants in prison, would we?)
  • What about their human rights? Can you as a nation or state incarcerate, hold or kill someone humanely?
    (no – it’s a degree of harm situation at best)


Other countries don’t agree obv or we’d all have the same POV.


The United Nations system as a whole, including UNODC, opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances (UNODC, 2010; UNODC, 2012; UNODC, 2016). The UN recognizes that because it is irreversible, the death penalty is opposed even when backed by legal process. An increasingly large number of States from all regions have acknowledged that the death penalty undermines human dignity, and that its abolition contributes to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights. In fact, the global trend is towards abolition. Currently, the great majority of UN Member States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it.

Hall of Doors – Bureaucracy (a story/ish)

Hall of Doors – Bureaucracy

Whenever Charlie looked for a job or even wanted to plan how to spend his day, it seemed like there was a wealth of rules to go with it. Things he should and shouldn’t do while he was just trying to get by. Some were good choices, rules that actually helped. But not all of them were. Some wanted him to be something he wasn’t, and some things impeded him and his connections more than they helped.

Charlie wasn’t sure if it was him who was supposed to change or society, but something should.

It’s not like other people were thrilled either. All these rules chafed. Well most people anyways.

But how does the cow go into the barn without going thru the doors? How do kids go to their class without going thru the halls? The world has many people, so aren’t rules part of being a collective? But how many do there have to be? Must there be a rule for how the toilet paper hangs? Or where you squeeze the toothpaste?

Charlie had a friend who loved the rules and procedures though. Steve said he felt comforted to know what was expected, that someone else was leading and thinking of these things.

All Charlie knew was that when the rules or procedures started going off the rails, it was like a huge game of dominos. Everything all set up pretty till someone blew on it and they ALL came crashing down. And there was nothing at all that could be done to stop them all from falling.

Rules rules everywhere a rule rule.

Charlie wondered if there was one person in each bureaucracy who knew all the rules for that institution. If there was, did the poor guy have a larger brain pan? Was he part computer?

Charlie just knew he didn’t want that job. He had enough trouble matching socks in the mornings! Let alone feeling like there was a life attached to every decision he made!! He was no Sisyphus. Endlessly rolling a stone uphill only to have it roll back and worry about who was in the path of doom.

Was that who had the heart attack or stroke? The rule knower? The rule follower? Well if it was, that person wasn’t Charlie. For which he thanked the spaghetti monster who created him!