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Living A Life In Full

Sep 1, 2020

Dr. William H. Reid is board-certified in general and forensic psychiatry, a professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the University of Texas Dell Medical School. 

He is a former medical director of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and a past president of both the American Academy of Psychiatry & the Law, and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians. He has authored or co-authored over 300 publications and abstracts, and 16 professional books and he consults nationally.

He graduated with a BA in psychology and MD from the University of Minnesota. He did his psychiatric residency at the University of California, Davis, with a pause to serve in the military, and afterwards, obtained a Master’s in Public Health from UC Berkley. Dr. Reid is a fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Physicians, and he is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

He is a longtime advocate for patients and for good mental health and developmental disabilities care. He’s especially concerned with improving recognition, assessment, protection, treatment and management of suicidal patients. In his forensic practice, spanning 40+ years, he has worked in at least 35 US states and internationally—including adult civil and criminal matters, for both plaintiffs/prosecutors and defendants, and sometimes for judges themselves. Many of those cases have involved “mass” killings, filicides, and suicide in the context of malpractice lawsuits.

In this episode we discussed “forensic psychiatry 101” in general, to set the context for better understanding his work, and in particular, we will discuss his latest book, A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings.

We have known each other for likely two decades and even co-authored a little here-and-there together, and in this episode chat about an overview or “101” of forensic psychiatry, including the M’Naghten Rule and how it came about, NGRI and how insanity is a legal not psychiatric  term, the concept of guilty but insane, the forensic unit of Elgin State Hospital and getting patients fit to stand trial and mental health court, infanticide and that in England the maximum charge is manslaughter if withing 12 months post-partum but it’s the most common charge those in our maximum security state hospital for women in Illinois, that Kansas, Montana and Utah have abolished the insanity defense, and more.

Bill’s latest book, A Dark Night in Aurora, has been described by Daniel Patinkin, author of The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter said about your book, "Stunning, scrupulous, and relentlessly gripping . . . a triumphant work of investigative nonfiction . . . Reid is brilliant—as deft a storyteller as he is a scientific communicator." New York Times Best Selling author, Robert Kolker, said “anyone searching for insight into our nation’s crisis of mass shootings should start here.”

Bill had a very rare and broad level of access to James Holmes—he was the only psychiatrist allowed to video interviews, he worked with the case for over a year, reviewed 75,000 pages of material and hundreds of CDs and DVDs, interviewed dozens of witnesses and other sources, and he spent over 23 hours interviewing Holmes himself on video. He shares how he got involved with the case, and we do a deep dive in to all aspects of the case, his work, and the book and what spurred him to write it.

I’m not going give any spoilers as to his perspective on James, but do check out the episode to learn what Bill’s perspectives are in terms of the trial verdicts and follow-up.

Bill also is a bit of a polymath in living his life in full. He’s also working on a children’s book and one on firearms with his brother—but not children and firearms(!). He also composes and performs music, and four of his five Bill Reid and The Fewer Sorrows Band albums have been on Grammy ballots in various categories. He has also written a symphony that is still under wraps. This episode is not to be missed with such an amazing person, professional and friend.