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Art on TrialArt Therapy in Capital Murder Cases$
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David Gussak

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162517

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162517.001.0001

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How It Began

How It Began

(p.23) 1 How It Began
Art on Trial

David E. Gussak

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the use of art therapy in the capital murder case of Kevin Ward in 2009. Ward murdered his eldest child and attempted to murder his younger one. Through Ward's choice of materials, style, and composition, art therapist David Gussak concluded that while his art pieces demonstrate talent, they also reveal the presence of a mental illness. Many of Ward's images can be and have been described as fragmented, with disconnected and shattered elements reminiscent of the art of a client with dissociative identity disorder. However, a reexamination of the images showed that the characteristics in artworks that may reflect schizophrenia seem to be pervasive throughout Ward's entire collection. Another criterion that became conspicuous while reviewing Ward's compositions was the varying energy levels revealed in them, leading to the assumption that he may also have suffered periodically from a mood disorder, specifically depression.

Keywords:   art therapy, capital murder case, Kevin Ward, mental illness, dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, depression

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