"False confessions" and identification with the aggressor: another forensic misuse of
a psychiatric concept.
I. N. Perr,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
18(2): 143-51, 1990.
Some psychiatrists misuse theoretical concepts beyond their generally accepted dimensions in an
attempt to support a conclusion favorable to a litigant or defendant. In the case presented, the concept
of identification with the aggressor was used in an attempt to eliminate or minimize the effect of a
confession and to buttress the claim that the confession itself was false. Quotations from the actual
reports and testimony are used to reflect both this tactic and the context in which these issues were
pursued, including a rather startling admission by the psychiatrist dealing with the thoroughness of
his professional effort. A brief history of "identification with the aggressor" is presented, a history
which contrasts with its application to rather routine police questioning. Similarly, skepticism is
clearly merited when a psychitrist testifies as to truthfulness or falsity of a statement.