The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.


The Murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald
 

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.

August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979

Note: Translation of the document following scanned pages
 

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site: August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979, p. 1

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site: August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979, p. 2

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site: August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979, p. 3

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site: August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979, p. 4

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site: August 16, 1979 Letter from Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D to Brian Murtagh re: Psychological Examination of Jeffrey MacDonald on August 13, 1979, p. 5

NOTE: Translation of the above document as I read it to be
Spelling, punctuation and grammar preserved


August 16, 1979

 

TO:
 

United States Attorney
Att. Brian Murtagh, Esq.
Eastern District of North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina 27611

THROUGH:
 

James A. Brussel, M.D.
175 West 12 Street
New York, New York 10011

From:

Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D.

RE:

 

MacDonald, Jeffrey R., M.D.
16052 Mariner Drive
Huntington Beach, California 92649
Birth date: 10/12/43



In comprehensive session of psychodiagnostics and consultation on 8/13/79, following a full day of observation of subject individual in Court in the Federal Building in Raleigh, the undersigned therapist conferred with the above captioned, Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald; and accomplished with him his projective and standardized psychometrics, including Rorschach Psychodiagnostics, Projective Drawing Test, California Test of Personality, Depth Sentence Completion Test, Mooney Problem Check List, and Cornell Index. Dr. MacDonald was seen for Psychological evaluation in the office of his attorneys, Messrs. Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Despite some initial reluctance on the part of subject individual, rapport with Dr. MacDonald was soon established; and he cooperated fully with the undersigned in the lengthy session of comprehensive testing. He feels he is being charged unduly with the murder of his family "by incompetent bureaucrats seeking to advance their careers". He points out that he has difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, and is awakened out of sleep by frightening dreams. He further feels that his enemies are going to great lengths to get him. In the projective sentence completion test he expressed some limited remorse, however fleetingly, relative to his "murdered wife and two beautiful children". Supplementarily, he scores poorly in a sense of personal freedom, social skills, freedom from withdrawal tendencies, and family relationships. In evidencing rather consistent defensiveness concerning psychological evaluation, the absence, however, of out-and-out anxiety and depression symptomology is psychologically noteworthy, as is the absence of particular excessive worry on his part.

Psychologically, Dr. MacDonald musters a strangely foundational repression, even an unconscious denial, of the murders of his wife and children; seemingly, in fact, the impact of the tragedy is blunted, if not blotted out, in his recollection. He is a man unhappily confused about his own masculinity, as well as basic concerns relative to appropriate behavior. He is evasive and indirect emotionally no less and gives evidence in his functioning, as well as outlook, of psy-

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Re: MacDonald, Jeffrey, R., M.D.

chopathology. He is a most conforming individual with psychopathic processes operating to add to an almost paranoic element in his thinking.

Dr. MacDonald gives evidence of being more than a passive-dependent individual. His thought processes are distinctly marked with unconscious feelings of considerable inadequacy, in great part consciously and deliberately concealed by a facade of assertiveness, which he confuses with manliness. For he is not an adequately competent man personally. He is immature psychologically; there seems to be an absence in him of deep emotional response, coupled with an inability to profit from experience. He is the kind of individual who is subject to committing asocial acts with impunity.

In terms of mental health and personality functioning also, Dr. MacDonald is either an overt or a repressed sexual invert characterized by expansive egotism and delusions of persecution. There is in him a splitting of the subjective life from reality. He has the tendency, also, to draw away from truly enduring social contacts, despite some evidence on his part to consider himself a socializing individual.

Dr. MacDonald bogs himself down with conforming behavior. In the face of conflict he appears incapable of developing insights enough into his needs and wishes and demands for adjustment. He seeks sedulously an earlier emancipation from responsibility. He lacks a sense of guilt; he seems bereft of a strong conscience. He appears incapable of emotionally close, or mutually cooperative, relationships with women; in fact his though-processes concerning his mother may be a clue to his own inadequacy in this regard. In corollary fashion, Dr. MacDonald seemingly made a poor adjustment with his father. Derivatively, he apparently avoided, even resented, the demands on him to fulfill the responsibilities of having been a husband and a father of female children. There is much constriction in Dr. MscDonald's emotional behavior. He would have others believe that he personally avoids emotion, through denial and repression of his feelings. (He is, after all, a physician who should be concerned with the well-being and comfort of individuals; yet, he does not share himself with others and sees fit to conduct himself in rather rigid defensiveness. In fact, for a man with his high intelligence and professional training, he gives evidence of amazingly little insight.) To be sure, as a person with attributes already indicated, he is subject to respond with anger when his person is questioned, on whatever basis.

Dr. MacDonald in his psychodiagnostic protocol gives evidence of considerable defensiveness concerning substantial psychological difficulties. Noteworthy also is the relative absence of depression and anxiety symptomology, especially in terms of the charges now being levelled against him. Again he is a naive individual who likes to be right in the eyes of others. Despite his intelligence, he lacks insightfulness and is deficient in understanding. He is not a sophisticated man and is given to impulsiveness. Already indicated is his passive-dependent personality; and is with marked feelings of inadequacy, with real doubts of himself. He overpersonalizes, with passive inadequacy and dependent needs. He seeks approval esteem,and attention; but is essentially lacking in maturity, despite his effort at masculine identity. He handles his conflicts by denying that they even exist.

Dr. MacDonald is not really in touch with his feelings and essentially is not com-

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Re: MacDonald, Jeffrey R., M.D.

fortable with himself. He has only an authoritarian (not authority) image of himself, the machismo-type of male. He obviously resented and avoided the demands of being a husband and father. He only appears organized and systematic and compulsive, essentially because his emotions are compartmentalized. He is not given to careful reflection truly. He has disdain for other with whom he differs. He is subject to being amnesic concerning what he would wish to blot out from his consciousness and his very conscience.

Subject individual's credibility leaves much to be desired
; in some part, a sociopathy seems to be present in him. The projective testing, including the Rorschach, Dr. MacDonald proved himself considerably pathological and impulsive, with femininistic characteristics. nervous reactivities given to concealed anger, with elements of frustration, and with characterological disorder.

The animal content in the Rorschach further indicates homicidal tendencies. He appears to have had a punitive father and a somewhat yielding mother, which over the years caused in him heterosexual failure on his part with later exhibitionisms. The inanimate movement responses in his Rorschach indicate latent homosexuality approaching homosexual panic; and the depreciated female contention his projections suggest more than a possibility of homosexuality, latent or otherwise. No less does this examiner note possible psychopathy in Dr. MacDonald, despite his almost sedulous absence of expressed anxiety. Together with immaturity and stereotype of thought, we further note in Dr. MacDonald's responses as inability---or a disinclination---to perceive the world in popular conventional ways. He makes poor adjustments with a concurrent weakened reality tie that borders on being schizoid. There is in him a lack of interest in seeking relationships among the separate facts of his experience.

In fact, in numerous responses, Dr. MacDonald established himself as considerably insecure: about his own normality particularly in regard to his sexual role. He is preoccupied with the irrelevant and is unable to face reality. His interpersonal relationships are poor, and he cannot see qualities of wholeness and concerns himself with detail. He is evasive and even mocks true life with almost childlike reactivities. He resents being being exposed and faces aways from reality on whatever level. He is greatly guarded, with evasive tendencies associated unquestionably with his sociopathy. He has inner feelings of rejections, of isolation, and of insecurity. Overall, the Rorschach responses suggest symptomatic, conceptual and emotional conflicts and behavioral disorganization on his part.

Tragically, Dr. MacDonald, again in projective testing, turns nostalgically toward a childhood which in fantasy is deeply satisfying and nurturing to him. The details he apperceives on the outer side of Rorschach plates are of ideational characteristics, such that are often seen in obsessive-compulsive neurotics and paranoid schizophrenics. Typically such individuals are somewhat distant and cold persons who are unwilling to discuss their problems and, often, are quite unaware of the kinds of things which in truth disturb them. Indeed, much of their behavior impulsive or deliberate, may be interpreted as an attempt to keep their conflicts

page 4

Re: MacDonald, Jeffrey R., M.D.

from awareness.

In projective testing, we find Dr. MacDonald with still more problems as an individual, psychologically. His figures are seen from the back, an attempt on his part to hide sexual differences. This further suggests problems in heterosexual adjustment. Also, there is definite implication in his makeup of his feelings of having been deserted in his maturational years developmentally, and of genetically early problems of frustrated dependency. To be sure, there is also dehumanization in his reference to cartoons with the implication of withdrawal from contact with others and a concurrent attempt at social isolation, again reminiscent of a homosexual orientation and a withdrawal from honest heterosexual contacts.

In terms of his present legal problems, predicated on psychological findings we have definite indicants of relevance to the case of poor child-parent relationships on the part of Dr. MacDonald. There appear to be unresolved relationships between subject individual and his father, with strong patriarchal concomitants. Generally, parenthood for him may have to be viewed as threatening and potentially destructive, at least in his thinking. Also, his figure of the person (with undefined breasts in a male figure) suggests strong aggressiveness, however unclear, a fear in him of what he is subject to do with his hands. He further suggests in his drawings of an infantile egocentricism with a maladjusted personality coupled with elements of narcissism. (It has been already indicated earlier concerning Dr. MacDonald's evasiveness and reluctance to face others rightly and to communicate with them appropriately, or at best to do what he can but only on his own terms.)

Summarily, in the view of this therapist predicated on scientific psychodiagnostics and psychological evaluation, Dr MacDonald may well be viewed as a psychopath subject to violence under pressure, rather effeminate as an individual, and given to overt behavior when faced with emotional stress. He is no less subject to blotting out that past of what is convenient and truly essential---to block out for his own emotional preservation. As a sociopathic individual with troublesome psychopathy, with an overlay of submerged and confused sexuality, Dr. MacDonald despite his hedonism seems self-destructive, superficial and even illogical at times, a man who seeks freedom and emancipation only for personal removal from constraint, controls, and restrictions. To suit his whim, he has the faculty to manufacture and convolute circumstances. He seeks attention and approval, and is given to denial of truth. He can be critically sarcastic. As a seriously emotional man, he gives evidence of secretiveness, with questionable moral standards. He is detailistic and lacks insight in seeing the gestalt, the whole quality of things and events and persons, as well as circumstances. (As a physician, he probably is given to treating the symptom rather than the illness and the disease.) In essence,

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Re: MacDonald, Jeffrey R., M.D.

then, Dr. MacDonald in personal and social adjustment is in need of continuous, consistent psychotherapeutic intervention, coupled with psychiatric attention.

 

 

Hirsch Lazaar Silverman, Ph.D
Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
American Board of Prof'l. Psychology;
Diplomate in Forensic Psychology
American Board of Prof'l. Psychology;
Licensed Psychologist: States of New Jersey,
Main, Hawaii, New York and Pennsylvania

 


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