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Forensic Psychology Literature Review

1779 words - 7 pages

Forensic Psychology, which is occasionally referred to as Legal Psychology, originally made its debut in the late 1800’s. A Harvard Professor, Professor Munsterberg, introduced the idea of psychology and law with his book, On the Witness Stand in 1908. Since the inception of the idea of psychology and law there have been proponents, as well as though that have spoken against the theories proposed by Munsterberg’s, along with other scientists, theorists, and psychologists that believed that Forensic Psychology had no standing to be linked to topics of law. This literature review will attempt to identify scholarly articles that trace the origins and the movement that led to Forensics Psychology becoming a specialty within the field of psychology. I will also attempt to explain What is Forensic Psychology as well as the part it plays within the legal system.
In an article titled, What is Forensic Psychology, Anyway?, John Brigham attempts to explain the beginnings of psychology and law; Forensics Psychology. Brigham explains that, “forensic psychology involves the interaction of psychology and the legal process” (Brigham 274). Brigham further highlights a historical case and the precedent established by the House of Lords through the induction of the McNaughten Rule, which translates, “To establish a defense on the ground of insanity it must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was laboring under such defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know nature and quality of the act he was doing, or he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong” (Finkel, 1988, p21; Brigham p275). Brigham explains that the concept of introducing psychology into the field of law went forefront within society as Sigmund Freud and Hugo Munsterberg began speaking and publishing work that explained the need to understand the psychological implications of criminals. It is further explained that initially Munsterberg theories concerning the need to understand psychological issues that could impact a person’s decision making capabilities was dismissed by his colleagues and others within the legal arena. This article explains that due to the efforts of John Wigmore, a legal scholar, as well as a Mr. Tyro being adamantly against the idea of psychology and law coexisting and slandering any theories and ideas of Munsterberg the suggestion of the two coming together would not be considered again till the late 1930’s due to the introduction of “extralegal information” (Brigham 278) into numerous court cases.
I chose this article to be the leading article due to the evidence presented in John Brigham, qualitative research pertaining to the conception of Forensic Psychology. John Brigham thesis concerns the origins of Forensic Psychology and to explain what Forensic Psychology is. Brigham offered extensive resources in his article, What is Forensic Psychology, Anyway?, which included a decision / ruling...

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