Art on Trial

Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases

David E. Gussak

Columbia University Press

Art on Trial

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Pub Date: February 2015

ISBN: 9780231162517

256 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $28.00£22.00

Pub Date: May 2013

ISBN: 9780231162500

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $85.00£66.00

Pub Date: May 2013

ISBN: 9780231534277

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $27.99£22.00

Art on Trial

Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases

David E. Gussak

Columbia University Press

A man kidnaps his two children, murders one, and attempts to kill the other. The prosecution seeks the death penalty, while the defense employs an unusual strategy to avoid the sentence. The defendant's attorneys turn to more than 100 examples of his artwork, created over many years, to determine whether he was mentally ill at the time he committed the crimes. Detailing an outstanding example of the use of forensic art therapy in a capital murder case, David Gussak, an art therapist contracted by the defense to analyze the images that were to be presented as evidence, recounts his findings and his testimony in court, as well as the future implications of his work for criminal proceedings.

Gussak describes the role of the art therapist as an expert witness in a murder case, the way to use art as evidence, and the conclusions and assessments that professionals can draw from a defendant's artworks. He examines the effectiveness of expert testimony as communicated by the prosecution, defense, and court, and weighs the moral, ethical, and legal consequences of relying on such evidence. For professionals and general readers, this gripping volume presents a convincing account of the ability of art to reflect a damaged and dangerous psyche. A leading text on an emerging field, Art on Trial demonstrates the practical applications of an innovative approach to clinical assessment and treatment.
Art on Trial is a testament to the potent power of art as evidence. David Gussak's masterful presentation of the case, the client, and the art explains the role and value of art therapy in a court of law. His book is a triumph for art as evidence, expounding the value of art therapists as expert witnesses in legal proceedings as well as the advantages that art therapy offers. Marcia Liebman, Drexel University
David Gussak has written a fascinating and important first-person account demonstrating the value of art therapy in the courtroom. His book represents an extraordinary interdisciplinary effort and will surely become a must-read for professionals in the fields of art therapy, criminology, and abnormal psychology. Jack Levin, Northeastern University, author of Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers: Up Close and Personal and, with Gordana Rabrenovic, Why We Hate
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Assessments, Art Therapy, and Forensics
Part I. Art and the Murderer: A Case Study
1. How It Began
2. The Jailhouse Meeting
3. More Art and the Follow-up
Part II. Defending the Art
4. The Deposition
5. The Testimony
Part III. Analysis and Implications
6. The Case Study: Summary, Reflections, and Ethics
7. Art Therapists as Expert Witnesses: Three More Capital Cases
8. Forensic Art Therapy Revisited
References

Read an excerpt from the chapter, "Art and the Murderer" (to view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner)

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About the Author

David E. Gussak, Ph.D., ATR-BC, is chair of the Department of Art Education and professor of the Graduate Art Therapy Program at Florida State University. He has published and lectured extensively on the use of art therapy in correctional settings and with violent and aggressive clients.