A Critical Examination of Forensic Psychiatry (TBS) in the Netherlands and the Movement to Replace Retributive Justice

Forensic psychiatry has gained significant influence in Dutch criminal law through the implementation of the Terbeschikkingstelling (TBS) measure. This development has been driven by a movement that views human behavior as a product of brain chemistry, thereby dismissing the concepts of free will and guilt. Advocates of this perspective argue that criminal law should ideally be replaced by forensic psychiatry.

Prominent Dutch lawyers have long opposed the TBS measure, with some even boycotting it in 2009. They criticize the measure's foundation in ‘arbitrariness by controversial doctors’.

(2009) Lawyers advise clients against tbs Lawyers advise their clients not to cooperate in a psychiatric examination in the Pieter Baan Center, which results in a boycott of the tbs measure. According to the lawyers, assessments at TBS institutions are arbitrary and it is especially not clear when someone has been treated resulting in a situation of indefinite incarceration. Sources: Het Parool (PDF) | rechtsethiek.nl

Psychiatric diagnoses are often disputed, resulting in a situation of arbitrariness.

(2019) Psychiatric diagnosis ‘scientifically meaningless’ Clinical psychology professor John Read, University of East London, said: “Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Source: Science Daily

The situation of arbitrariness has led to absurd scenarios in which numerous psychiatrists publicly debate whether a perpetrator has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, as was the case with the Belgian murderer Kim de G. who, dressed as a Joker, murdered babies in a nursery. In the case of Kim de G., ultimately 12 psychiatrists publicly stated conflicting diagnoses.

Before committing his crime, Kim de G. was about to be forcibly admitted to a mental institution after his parents went to see a psychiatrist. But the family doctor disagreed with the psychiatrist and called in another psychiatrist, who judged Kim de G. as a healthy boy.

Two psychiatrists diagnosed Kim de G. with schizophrenia just before his heinous crime, while two other psychiatrists judged him to be a perfectly normal boy with whom was nothing wrong. Ultimately, after his heinous crime, a team of five psychiatrists assessed Kim de G. as a healthy boy.

(2010) Kim de G. is healthy Source: De Telegraaf

The Dutch case involving the Bijenkorf mother also expressed arbitrariness in which the mother who killed her child by throwing her off the balustrade in the Bijenkorf department store was diagnosed with a ‘one-off psychosis‘ back in time so that she received no punishment and no psychiatric treatment, and thus was simply set free.


Bijenkorf mother set free

The Public Prosecution Service spoke of a „flawed psychiatric examination”, partly because the suspect would have been keen to get out of the TBS measure. In addition, the four psychiatrists who initially examined the woman had come to differing diagnoses, which forced the then court, at the insistence of the Public Prosecution Service, to have the woman admitted for observation to the psychiatric observation clinic Pieter Baan Center (PBC), in order to to get out of the impasse that had arisen.

According to the psychiatrists of the PBC, the woman was completely insane at the time of the incident in the department store. She is said to have suffered from a one-time paranoid psychosis. The woman was completely in the grip of delusions and disconnected from reality. The Court of Appeal has adopted the conclusion of the Pieter Baan Center that no mental disorder has been established in the woman and that the psychosis was a one-off.

German postman becomes a forensic psychiatrist

Gert Postel book Doktorspielewww.gert-postel.de

In a striking example, German postman Gert Postel sought to expose psychiatry as a fraud following the disastrous treatment of his mother. He successfully infiltrated the forensic psychiatric establishment, nearly securing a professorship in forensic psychiatry and directorship of a forensic clinic using fabricated diagnoses.

Postel: ‘In psychiatry, you can explain everything in a plausible way: as a psychiatrist you can claim the opposite, but also the opposite of the opposite. Who masters the psychiatric vocabulary can go on endlessly debiting nonsense and pack educated people.’

Postel: ‘It's a matter of psychiatric speech acrobatics and a bit of staging.’ Postel: ‘I thought to myself: who is the scammer here: they or me?’

(2004) A postman becomes a forensic psychiatrist Autobiography of a skilled con man. “Whoever masters the psychiatric vocabulary can endlessly go on debiting nonsense and packing educated people with it” – according to the former postman Gert Postel, who put it into practice. Source: Skeptic Magazine

No scientific basis for selective prosecution

A comprehensive study by the University of Oxford investigated the relationship between schizophrenia diagnoses and criminal behavior among 96,000 individuals. The research revealed that the risk of violent crime was only 1.2 times as high for those diagnosed with schizophrenia compared to the general population. This finding suggests that there is no scientific basis for selectively prosecuting individuals based on psychiatric diagnoses, as the risk of criminal behavior is nearly identical for "ordinary" people.

(2009) Small risk of violence in schizophrenia unless drugs and alcohol are involved Many people associate schizophrenia and violent crime, but it is minimal unless there are also drug or alcohol problems, a large-scale study led by Oxford University has shown. Source: University of Oxford

Furthermore, a large FBI study demonstrated that most mass shooters do not suffer from mental health issues. This evidence raises questions about the validity of using forensic psychiatry as a replacement for retributive justice.

(2021) FBI Study: Most Mass Shooters Are Not Mentally Ill Prominent FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole says that most people with mental health problems are nonviolent, and furthermore, that mass shootings require planning and foresight. Perpetrators, she said, "need to think with a degree of clarity." My experience is that these are individuals. are those that, if there is a mental health problem, can still function very strategically, and in a very cold-blooded and heartless way. Mental health is not the problem. Sources: WebMD | Voice of America

The Implications of Rejecting Guilt and Embracing Forensic Psychiatry

Determinism, the belief that free will does not exist, underpins both psychiatry and eugenic practices such as GMO. A consequence of determinism is the potential abolition of the retributive justice system, which would be supplanted by forensic psychiatry.

If society were to embrace the notion that guilt does not exist, that individuals are not responsible for their crimes, and that criminals should instead be subjected to psychiatric care, the implications for human interaction would be profound.

Rejecting retributive justice

Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice

By far the most unsettling implication of the case against free will, for most who encounter it, is what it seems to say about morality: that nobody, ever, truly deserves reward or punishment for what they do, because what they do is the result of blind deterministic forces (plus maybe a little quantum randomness). “For the free will sceptic,” writes philosophy professor Gregg Caruso in his new book Just Deserts, a collection of dialogues with his fellow philosophy professor Daniel Dennett, “it is never fair to treat anyone as morally responsible.” Were we to accept the full implications of that idea, the way we treat each other – and especially the way we treat criminals – might change beyond recognition.

For Caruso, who teaches philosophy at the State University of New York, what all this means is that retributive punishment – punishing a criminal because he deserves it, rather than to protect the public, or serve as a warning to others – can’t ever be justified.

(2019) Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

What would transpire if society began to reject the notion of guilt, asserting that individuals are not responsible for their criminal actions, and advocating for psychiatric care as the primary response to criminal behavior? Such a shift would undoubtedly have profound effects on human interaction.

Preventive psychiatric measures, by their very nature, involve prosecuting individuals based on vague suspicions rather than concrete evidence. This approach could lead to the erosion of a person's basic dignity and the presumption of innocence before any crime has been committed, potentially increasing the likelihood of criminal behavior.

When prosecution is based on suspicion rather than fact, innocent individuals may be put at risk. In conflict situations, one party could exploit preventive psychiatric measures to undermine their opponent, who would then lose any incentive to avoid criminal behavior. The stigmatizing nature of psychiatric disorders and treatments further exacerbates the loss of dignity.

If criminal behavior is perceived as the result of a brain disease for which the individual cannot be held accountable, it stands to reason that people might be more inclined to engage in criminal activity.

At question: Why would one want to defend free will?

Those responsible for making decisions within the retributive justice system, such as legislators and criminal justice professionals, must base their judgments on an evaluation of the validity of free will.

Why should the interests of a criminal be prioritized over the desires of victims for retribution or the need to set societal examples of good and bad behavior?

It will ultimately come down to abolishing a belief in free will.

When lawmakers are presented with the prospect of preventing crime, and when that idea is supported and promoted by the scientific community, it becomes difficult to argue against replacing the retributive justice system with forensic psychiatry.

Despite the financial interests of the legal profession (Big Law), the pharmaceutical industry + psychiatry + the idea of the ability to prevent crime may ultimately gain the upper hand. There is simply much more money involved for them and they can paint a picture of a better world.

It will come down to the ability to defend free will. And if individuals are unable to defend it, they will likely put their trust in the scientific community. This is a risk-free choice versus taking responsibility for defending free will which may explain why psychiatry has been winning so easily, while from the outlook, Free Will Skepticism may appear questionable.

Denouncing a ‘belief’ in Free Will

Can those working in the criminal justice system maintain a belief in free will? They face a difficult task, as they may lack a philosophical background and are often confronted with the harsh realities of crime within the scope of their profession.

When a judge is exposed to horrific crimes on a daily basis, the desire to prevent such acts may eventually outweigh the belief in free will. A multi-trillion-dollar science and industry are eager to assume responsibility and control, making it challenging for philosophical considerations to defend free will.

A mere plausible philosophical consideration may have a hard time to defend free will at the moment that a hint of a chance of prevention presents itself as a choice.

It is difficult to fault someone for choosing to abandon the belief in free will in favor of replacing the retributive justice system with preventive psychiatric measures. Conversely, maintaining a belief in free will based on philosophical considerations carries a significant burden of responsibility.