EXPERTISE IN GERECHTSDOSSIERS | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2588-8277
  • E-ISSN: 2667-162X



Research on the history of Dutch forensic psychiatry has hardly taken into account how psychiatrists functioned in practice. This article, based on 485 court cases of (child)murder, rape and arson, provides an inventory of the role of psychiatrists in the courtroom. It distinguishes between three regimes of knowledge: a first regime in the first half of the nineteenth century, when there is much overlap between lay and expert knowledge on the mind; the second from ca. 1880, when increasingly reference is made to scientific concepts and reports became standardized; and a third regime around 1920, when an emphasis on scientific methods found its way into the reports. An analysis of verdicts shows that the judges often agreed with the expert reports. The relationship between the judges and psychiatrists can be qualified as one in which judges accorded room for experts, who, however, remained subservient to the judiciary.


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