Letter to the Editor
Witnessing Executions
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 18 page 26-26

Joan Arehart-Treichel’s thoughtful article in the July 19 issue on death-penalty expectations and realities reminded me of an experience I had practicing in Baton Rouge, La., in the early 70s.

I was asked to see a patient with "intractable vomiting" in consultation. He told me he had witnessed recently the execution (by electrocution) of his son’s murderer in Texas. He witnessed the execution because he had been led to believe it would give him "satisfaction" and "closure" and let him get on with his life. Far from it: to me he expressed horror and disgust. He said that he felt far more depressed and sleepless after the experience.

Remembering this incident when I read the article in Psychiatric News reminded me that one of my great teachers, the late Preston McLean, M.D., used to say, "We must always help our patients forgive since revenge doesn’t heal anything. . . ."

Have any other APA members had similar or "opposite" experiences in their practices?

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