Friday, July 24, 2009

Psychiatrist concludes mother is fit to stand trial


A court-commissioned psychiatric evaluation of the ultra-Orthodox mother suspected of starving her son did not support claims that she was unfit to stand trial, the examining psychiatrist said.

Jerusalem's District Psychiatrist said he did not accept the results of Dr. Yaakov Meir Weil's examination.

Weil performed the examination at the home of the woman's rabbi, where she is staying in house arrest. Weil, who came there at the request of rabbis from the woman's religious sect as per an agreement between the woman and a judge who arraigned her, also said he could not diagnose the woman "based on a two-hour" talk.

The mother, a Haredi woman from the Eda Haredit group in Jerusalem, was arrested after hospital officials at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, saw her remove a feeding tube from her severely underweight three-year-old child on a hidden camera. She claims that she was trying to feed her son solid foods.

One of the things that Weil had come to ascertain was the possibility that the woman is suffering from Munchausen syndrome - a psychiatric disorder wherein sufferers feign or create disease, illness, or psychological trauma in themselves or in loved ones in order to draw attention or sympathy.

But in a talk with Haaretz, Weil criticized police and doctors at Hadassah who speculated that the mother suffered from this condition. "I hope we can see each other in the future so I can help her. The environment she comes from is not used to requiring psychological services but maybe I can meet her in the future to reach a diagnosis based on the relationship I have with them," he said. "People in Hadassah diagnosed her without her ever meeting a psychiatrist. The talk about the Munchausen syndrome is gossip as far as I'm concerned."

Weil added that the syndrome was "not something that can be diagnosed through a two-hour talk or any sort of simple psychiatric interview."

"In our talk, I saw nothing to convince me she is unfit to stand trial, psychotic or has trouble telling right from wrong," he added.

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