No “French Whore” in the DSM-IV

March 8, 2012

by Julia Fletcher

When Rush Limbaugh called a young woman a “slut” and a “prostitute”, those words didn’t sit well.

In fact, as soon as Mr. Limbaugh unleashed those words, advertisers began to pull hundreds of thousands of dollars from his radio show. 

Dr. Kenneth Robson isn’t a radio talk-show host.

He’s a custody evaluator in Connecticut family courts.

Connecticut parents and taxpayers pay Dr. Robson to evaluate mothers, fathers and children in family court cases – usually cases involving some form of child abuse.  The cases Dr. Robson reviews are serious cases. Some are extremely disturbing. Some involve unspeakable abuse. 

In one of those cases involving allegations of unspeakable abuse, the mother noticed and reported what she believed to be signs and symptoms of purposeful, horrific child abuse. Others witnessed those signs and symptoms. Experts in the field of child abuse were called to investigate. The signs and syptoms of abuse were documented.

Dr. Robson investigated and called the young mother “a French whore“. 

Could “French whore” be one of those clinical terms that doesn’t sound clinical?

According the the American Psychatric Association’s website,

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. It is intended to be applicable in a wide array of contexts and used by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) has been designed for use across clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care), with community populations. It can be used by a wide range of health and mental health professionals, including psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors. It is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics.

I typed the terms “DSM-IV” and “French whore” into the Google search bar and was quite surprised to find that the term “French whore” has indeed been used in a clinical setting.

In the book,  The Physician as Patient: A Clinical Handbook for Mental Health Professionals, Michael Meyers, M.D. and Glen Gabbard, M.D. describe a case in which a 50-year-old primary care practitioner used that same term. In the chapter called, “Personality Disorders, Personality Traits and the Disruptive Physician” they describe the “ego-syntonic personality disorder” which would describes Dr. Robson’s mental state – not the mental state of the mother. 

Could Dr. Robson be mentally ill? 

It would not be the first time a mentally ill health care provider was allowed to run rampant in our family courts. (See Seattle Times Special Report: Twisted Ethics of an Expert Witness)

 If Dr. Robson is not mentally ill, and if  Dr. Robson’s use of the term “French whore” was not an attempt to diagnose the young mother, then he could have been using the term “French whore” to degrade her. To humiliate her. To discredit her.

So, what if a heart surgeon were to refer to a patient as “a French whore”?  Could a congressional representative get away with calling a constituent “a French whore”? 

How about a radio talk show host?

Perhaps the most important question is this:  Which Connecticut legislators will take another look at Dr. Eli Newberger’s testimony in that case in Connecticut and pull the taxpayer dollars from Dr. Robson’s show?

Here’s part of Dr. Newberger’s testimony:

Click on the photo above for full text.

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