On this page you can find a short list of our current research projects as well as some abstracts from PIPATL members' posters

Follow this link or scroll down the page to see some psychological instruments.

For more information on submitting materials to JAMA, click here.

Current Research Projects

Here is a short list of many of our current research interests:

  • Resisting Boundary Excursions
  • Jury view of Expert
  • Privacy of Medical Records
  • Judges views of Courtroom Process
  • Counselor/Doctor-Patient Relationship and getting sued
  • Stage of Development of IQ test items
  • Guardianship
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Rasch Analysis of Expert Stress


Below are some abstracts from PIPATL members' posters at the 19 March 2003 Harvard Medical School poster session:

Analytic Justifications and Empirical Predictions for the Model of Hierarchical Complexity
by Michael Lamport Commons
The Model of Hierarchical Complexity is part of a theory that simplifies and generalizes from Jean Piaget�s stage theory. The model describes discrete orders of hierarchical task complexity, suggesting that these orders underlie stage-like performance. (more)

Hierarchical Stacked Neural Networks Modeled on the Developmental Sequence Delineated in Commons� Model of Hierarchical Complexity
by Myra Sturgeon White and Michael Lamport Commons
Neural networks have greatly improved our ability to model human behavior and learning by simulating neuronal functioning and organization. However, they are not able to reproduce the rich repertoire of behaviors that humans use to solve complex problems. Our work incorporates hierarchical behavioral models of how humans learn and solve problems into the design of neural networks. Using Commons� Model of Hierarchical Complexity (1998), we have designed stacked neural networks that by their structure and function parallel the behavioral learning process in humans. (more)

Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Boundaries: Brazil and United States
by Michael Lamport Commons, Patrice Marie Miller and Thomas Gordon Gutheil
This paper compared boundary perceptions by mental health professionals in Brazil and the United States. There were 60 participants: 28 Brazilians (20 females, 7 males and 1 not reporting) attendees a presentation on boundary issues from the Institute of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; and 33 Americans (18 females and 15 males) attendees from the Program in Psychiatry the Law, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard University, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston. Participants responded to a survey on boundary issues, rating each issue to its degree of 1) harm, and 2) professional unacceptability. (more)

Medical Confidentiality and The Importance of Patient Consent
by Richard Sobel & Graham L. Spruiell
This presentation will discuss the nature and importance of medical confidentiality and informed consent in the use of patient information to the quality of care and strength of the doctor/patient relationship. It will briefly review the history of confidentiality rooted in the Hippocratic oath and modern medical ethics. It will identify the importance for quality care of patient�s sense of trust that what s/he reveals to a provider will be kept confidential and used only to maintain or restore a person's health.(more)

Psychological Instruments

Third Boundary Study Instrument (a .pdf file).

Attorney-Client Problem (a .pdf file).

Counselor-Patient Problem (a .pdf file).

Misprision Instrument (a .pdf file).

Laundry Problem. A Piagetian Task Series for measuring performance at the primary, concrete, abstract, formal, systematic and metasystematic stages (GSM).

Balance Beam Problem (a .pdf file). A Piagetian Task Series for measuring performance at the primary, concrete, abstract, formal, systematic and metasystematic stages (GSM).

Doctor-Patient Problem

Forensic Trades









The Program in Psychiatry and The Law meets Wednesday mornings at 11:00 AM in Room 340 3rd floor of the new Mass Mental Health Center at 75 Fenwood Road. Left from the elevator and all the way down the hall.

Check our meetings page regularly to find out about our upcoming meetings.

Our file library includes copies of the Amicus Briefs to which we have contributed: Althaus v. Cohen (PA) and Citizens for Health v. Thompson (Third Circuit).

 Tuesday, September 1, 2015
First meeting of the new academic year = Wednesday, September 9!
 Sunday, February 23, 2014
PIPATL Meeting Location:
Room 340 on the 3rd floor of Mass. Mental Health Center, 75 Fenwood Rd. Left from the elevator and all the way down the hall. The room has a communications center that allows more than one person to call in at a time!!

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