I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reviewing Dr. Mark Rubinstein’s previous book Bedlam’s Door: True Tales of Madness and Hope, so when the opportunity came up to review his follow-up, Beyond Bedlam’s Door: True Tales from the Couch & Courtroom, I didn’t think twice. It was a natural progression to follow his work in his office into the courtroom, where his expertise and knowledge could truly determine the direction of someone’s life.
I’ve grown up a fan of the legal practice and the core idea of defending those in need of help and treating everyone fairly without regard to the money or fame involved. Dr. Rubinstein continues to show in example after example his dedication to those ideals, while also trying to be understandably humble. Yet in case after case, it was clear that when faced with tough choices and outside pressures, he took his work and his ethical promise to heart.
One of the first cases that struck the tripwire in my head dealt with a police officer who was suing for workers compensation. After an intense, brave, and successful high-speed chase, the office involved found himself suffering from intense PTSD. He described the chase itself as if he was in a trance and didn’t even register the dangerous speeds or how he was being shot at when finally getting out of his car. Since that day, he couldn’t even look at a cruiser without his heart racing and a panic attack setting in. Definitely not something any police officer can deal with on duty.
The twist to this case was in order for him to actually get compensation he needed to prove actual physical injury first, then connect that to his psychological injury. The state had recently changed the law because they felt too many people were abusing the previous standards for proving psychological impact. Now, in the case of the officer, his own lawyer was asking Dr. Rubenstein to confirm that a small injury to the officer’s knee as he was jumping out of his car was the actual trigger to his PTSD, instead of it existing as a purely mental scar.
Even though it would’ve benefitted the officer, whom Dr. Rubinstein honestly felt bad for, he wouldn’t bend to the lawyer’s demand. Not only was the knee injury not connected to the PTSD, but in the initial consultation with Dr. Rubenstein the officer never even mentioned the knee injury. It didn’t come up until three weeks later after the other lawyer was told the PTSD alone wouldn’t allow for compensation.
Time after time the lines of ethics and emotion cross over each other, constantly testing those in positions of power to prove they are worthy of it.
Beyond Bedlam’s Door contains a number of other cases involving cheating spouses, elderly widows, a 9/11 survivor, and even one case where Dr. Rubinstein was brought in as an expert witness to testify against another psychiatrist to prove that the other doctor had strayed from proper protocol and directly caused the suicide of one of his patients. In that latter case, the verbal abuse Dr. Rubinstein withstood on the stand will make any reader angry, possibly at the entire legal profession.
The book teaches readers a lot, not only about how the worlds of psychiatry and the law intersect but also how easily they can be abused. Careful consideration needs to be heeded at every step along the way and it is plainly unethical and irresponsible to allow anything else to interfere with getting to the truth.
Beyond Bedlam’s Door: True Tales from the Couch & Courtroom is absolutely a must read for people interested in how the brain works and how the courtroom can either protect or destroy it.