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The Embarrassing Psychobabble Exculpation of Mel Gibson by NBC‘s Dr. Nancy Snyderman

Do you find much that is complicated regarding the audio recordings of Mel Gibson’s threatening former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and implicitly admitting assault and battery against her?

Neither should any non-corkscrew thinker, but NBC’s Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman does.

Interviewed this day on NBC’s “Today” show by Meredith Vieira along with former judge and prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, (who has apparently herself been the victim of domestic abuse), Dr. Snyderman unleashed a barrage of excusing psychological possibilities, perhaps heretofore unknown by experts outside the forgiving walls of forensic psychiatry.

The recordings of Gibson’s clear, non-slurring and chilling, threatening demeanor (“I’ll put you in a f…… rose garden”) replete with imminent ultimatums (“You hang up, I’m coming over there”) brought these responses from the understanding Dr. Snyderman: “This is mental illness;” “Any psychiatrist would look at [possible] inflammation, infection, tumor drug use;” and then she wonders if this could be an “alcohol-fueled rant.”

Not only was there a 20-year or so history of violent rhetoric on the part of Mr. Gibson, but there was no evidence even of his slurring his words this time as there was on previous audios of, for example, his anti-Semitic tirade of years past.

Judge Pirro tried to point this out, but psychiatrically excusing rhetoric does not require valid evidence, as observers of the shameful use of the insanity plea in our courts well know.

Dr. Snyderman relentlessly pursued her psychiatrically mitigating interpretation: she argued that it’s important to note that “paranoia” can be a “root” or a “byproduct of a brain that’s gone haywire.” The medically terminological precision and sophistication in that statement is evident of the social irresponsibility of Dr. Snyderman.

Asked what should follow from this point? The psychobabbling Dr. Snyderman does not disappoint, articulating her fatuity twice for emphasis: “Immediate psychiatric help; immediate psychiatric help.”

Nor does the excellent Judge Pirro disappoint: she thinks the most pressing matter at this point is to arrest and prosecute Mr. Gibson. She sees Gibson’s crimes for what they are; that is, actions by an “angry hateful batterer.” She does not search for ways to deny agency. She also anticipates that “any jury would be outraged” at these tapes.

Yes, unless their anger is assuaged by psychiatrically mystifying doctors who have no hesitation in making nonscientific speculations to benefit criminal offenders.

Professor Vatz has been writing on psychiatry and rhetoric for over 35 years

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