One famous incident that highlights the significance of duty to warn is the case of Tatiana Tarasoff, who was murdered by If Prosenjit Poddar’s denouement can be, as it has been, put down to culture shock, the inability to adjust to a fast paced, open society going from a country tied to the Hindu rate of growth, both economically and socially, Mainak Sarkar was the product of a liberalised India where the latest American sitcoms are beamed into sitting rooms via satellite TV. In 1968, Tatiana became friends with Prosenjit Poddar, a University of California–Berkeley student from India. Prosenjit Poddar, a grad student at Berkeley, becomes obsessed with an un-dergrad acquaintance. Both tried to live the American dream, only to end up in inconceivable tragedy. After returning to her home, he called police. Poddar then stopped attending therapy with Moore. When a breach of confidentiality is necessary, asking the patient's permission first can be an important step in preserving the therapist-patient relationship as well. (Opinion by Wright, C. J., with Tobriner, Mosk, Burke and Sullivan, JJ., concurring. And, who can say, they could all be correct. Poddar came to believe that the two were in a serious relationship, a view that was not shared by Tarasoff. The complaint alleges that "On or aboutAugust 20, 1969, defendant Dr. Moore notified Officers Atkinson and Teel, he would give thecampus police a letter of diagnosis on Prosenjit Poddar, so the campus police could pick upPoddar and take him to Herrick Hospital in Berkeley where Dr. Moore would assign a 72-hour Emergency Psychiatric Detention on Prosenjit Poddar." It’s rediculous that victims were not notified of a persons intent to harm them to protect Therapists obligation to confidentiality. This undated photo shows Ashley Hasti, left, and Mainak Sarkar. The police checked up on him but found him docile and biddable. He was from Durgapur, a couple of hours drive from Kolkata; he was from Balurghat, a small town in north Bengal, close to the Bangladesh border, which had no rail connection till a few years ago. Supreme Court of California. I was going to make similar points that you made in your response. Prosenjit Poddar and Tatiana Tarasoff were students at UC Berkeley. In Shortly after Poddar's release, Tatiana Tarasoff's parents launched a civil suit against the therapists and the University of California, Berkeley. Level 6. A parent can confide to the therapist that they are harming their children and the therapist is required to report and secure the child if the child is present. The suit stated that the defendants should have warned Tarasoff directly about the death threats which might have saved her life. Prosenjit Poddar was in love. As Bersoff pointed out, one of the major problems with the Tarasoff decision is that it requires therapists to decide how the seriousness of the threat being made. Despite the controversy over the circumstances for breaching confidentiality, Tarasoff laws have been adopted across many U.S. states and have guided similar legislation in countries around the world. The legal case was brought by the Tarasoff family after their daughter, Tatiana Tarasoff, was murdered by Prosenjit Poddar, who had received psychological services in the university counseling center. Stalker. No. Hot Heads. [1] Plaintiffs, Tatiana's parents, allege that two months earlier Poddar confided his intention to kill Tatiana to Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist employed by the Cowell Memorial Hospital at the University of California at Berkeley. When she attempted to flee, he pursued her and then stabbed her to death with the kitchen knife he had been carrying. His therapist wanted to commit him to hospital, but Poddar convinced campus police he was not dangerous. When Prosenjit Poddar reached Berkeley in 1967, the number of Indian students, in fact the number of Indians in America was barely a fraction of what it is today. Assimilation, integrating into the American way of life, it seems, is not for everyone, especially for Indians from protective, middle class families. The gunman was identified as Mainak Sarkar, an Indian-born 38-year-old former UCLA Ph.D student. (Mainak Sarkar’s teachers in IIT-Kgp too could not place him instantly. These are questions that can never be answered. No therapist can totally predict if someone will become violent or not, they can definitely err on the side of caution and are always encouraged to do so. The client may stop attending therapy but the victim has a chance to secure safety precautions. It also means that therapists have to advise patients as soon as treatment begins about the limits of confidentiality. If I miscalculate and a person ends up harmed, whether that be the client or perpetuated by the client, then I could be involved in a wrongful death suit. It requires having access to information that many therapists might not have, i.e., criminal history or records from previous therapists. The Tarasoff case is based on the 1969 murder of a university student named Tatiana Tarasoff. Prosenjit Poddar In 1968, college student Prosenjit Poddar met Tatiana Tarasoff at a dance class in California. Prosenjit Poddar was a patient of Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist at UC Berkeley's Cowell Memorial Hospital in 1969. If the psychologist had accepted the view of absolute, inviolate confidentiality, he might have been able to have kept Poddar in treatment, saved the life of Tatiana Tarasoff, and Consequently, although Moore sought to have Poddar involuntarily committed, the campus police disregarded Moore’s recommendation and Poddar remained free. Mainak Sarkar, the aerospace engineer who killed himself on Thursday after shooting dead his girlfriend in Minnesota and his PhD supervisor at the University of California in Los Angeles or UCLA, could have been the 21st-century reincarnation of Prosenjit Poddar. So did Poddar. A young lawyer just starting out on his career (he is a reputed corporate lawyer in California now) took on his case pro bono and got him a mistrial on a technical ground. The patient says he is going to go home tonight and just cut off the tip of her pinky (on the non-dominant hand). Despite attempting to plead guilty to manslaughter, Prosenjit Poddar went on trial for first-degree murder and was found guilty of second-degree murder instead. Perhaps more importantly, Tarasoff laws turn therapists into agents of the state who are obliged to report on anything that might potentially lead to a crime happening. About two months later, in October of 1969, Tatiana returned to California from Brazil, and Poddar began following her again. student at University of Berkley dated fellow student Prosenjit Poddar. Confidentiality is one of the pillars of therapy and is insanely important to upkeep; the special relationship between a client and their therapist is built upon trust. The Americans decided to cut their losses. Asked if he is going to kill her, he responds, “No, I just want her to bleed a bit.”. Poddar was obsessed with Tarasoff and following their breakup he was devastated and depressed. Poddar returned to India, soon to leave for Germany where he is said to remain, with a good Bengali wife and a daughter. The Russian government is believed to be responsible for a massive cyberespionage campaign against several US federal agencies, The US president-elect reiterated his campaign pledge that his administration will set a target of cutting US emissions to net-zero 'no later than 2050', In a nearly two-hour speech, Trump declared he would not concede, at times sticking to his script but regularly going off-the-cuff for his more incendiary claims. After consulting with his psychiatrist supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson, they wrote a letter to campus police advising them of the death threats. An attempt may still be made by the perp but if unsuccessful the perp can at least be held responsible for the attempt sparing the victim. Poddar was obsessed with Tarasoff and following their breakup he was devastated and depressed. n18 In the fall of 1968, he met Tanya Tarasoff while she was attending folk dancing classes at the International House. In the case of Prosenjit Poddar, he had no actual history of violence and the therapists already took that precaution of warning campus police. February 7, 1974.] If you are so convinced of your abilities in the field, ignore the Tarasoff warning and take your chances in court. Poddar interpreted the kiss as a symbol of the seriousness of their relationship. Mr. Poddar told his therapist, Dr. Lawrence Moore, that he wanted to kill a girl who was readily identifiable as Tatiana Tarasoff. His therapist, Dr. Lawrence Moore, became concerned when his patient confessed his intention of killing Tarasoff (he never actually named her in the sessions, but identifying Tarasoff wasn't difficult). While Bersoff does not suggest that potentially violent patients should be allowed to endanger the public, he does argue that breaching confidentiality should only be done as a last resort. The perpetrator, Prosenjit Poddar, was an Indian graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley who had met Tarasoff at a folk dancing class on campus. US Department of Homeland Security becomes third target in major cyberspying operation: Reports, US will rejoin Paris climate accord on first day of new administration, pledges Joe Biden, Donald Trump continues to claim electoral victory at first post-poll rally in Georgia, 9 Months Season 5 Episode 1 | Pregnancy & Gearing Up for Delivery, The Earth, Space & the Human Race Podcast Ep 10: Role of everyday citizens in India\'s climate movement. An exceptionally bright--some would say genius-- exchange student from the lowest caste in India, his socioeconomic situation and dedication to his studies had left him little time to think of girls. Updated Date: Firstpost - All Rights Reserved. But it will not be surprising if we find out that Sarkar’s life followed Poddar’s trajectory. Additionally, a lot of folks who have spent decades in mental health treatment who are still suffering tremendously. Prosenjit Poddar was born into the Harijan (untouchable) caste in Bengal, India. A new punishment hearing is set for October. So, are Tarasoff laws needed? Come on! Tarasoff was no longer interested in a serious relationship thus she broke up with Poddar. He heard her say that while she was in Brazil, she had an affair with … Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. His is a name that medical and legal circles there are fully aware of. In the fall of 1968 he met Tatiana (Tanya) Tarasoff at folk dance lessons in the International House where he resided. There is so much of Sarkar’s life in America that is as yet unknown. While the patient showed up for eight sessions, Moore then advised him that, if the death threats continued, then he would have no choice but to have Poddar hospitalized. They saw each other about once a week until New Year's Eve, when Tanya kissed him. Example 1: In the fall of 1969, Prosenjit Poddar, a citizen of India and naval architecture student at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, shot and stabbed to death Tatiana Tarasoff, a young woman who had spurned his affections. 10 Tatiana Tarasoff & Prosenjit Poddar. He also decided to appeal his case. After meeting Indian graduate student, Prosenjit Poddar, at a folk dancing class, Tatiana agreed to go on several dates with him but soon called it off after getting into a disagreement over the seriousness of their relationship. Prosenjit Poddar was one such scholarship holder. Most of Berkeley’s foreign students lived on campus, in the International House. Poddar then told his therapist about wanting to kill her. Tanya was a flirtatious young woman of mixed … What Really Goes on in the Mind of a Cheater? They allege that on Moore's request, the campus police briefly detained Poddar, but released him when he appeared rational. 6. His is a name that medical and legal circles there are fully aware of. Poddar returned to India, soon to leave for Germany where he is said to remain, with a good Bengali wife and a daughter. They allege that on Moore's request, the campus police briefly detained Poddar, but released him when he appeared rational. Supreme Court of California. Poddar was taken into custody but, after satisfying the officers that he was of a rational mind, was released on his promise to stay away from Tarasoff. losing jobs, yet bought a big house for his wife and three children — which he couldn't afford. There have been later cases which have modified many of the conditions of the Tarasoff decision and therapists are usually urged to seek legal advice before breaching patient confidentiality due to the complicated legal picture involved. On October 27, 1969, Poddar confronted Tatiana Tarasoff at her home. Patients then have to decide whether to continue with treatment, despite having no guarantee that what they say might lead to the police being called or a victim receiving a warning. As it is, there are a lot of mediocre and even bad mental health providers and, the fact is, that for the most part, their commitment to their patient lasts only as long as their insurance coverage (or their ability to pay privately). Most patients do not discontinue treatment because they are afraid of disclosure, they are afraid of disclosure and nothing being done to truly help. Not someone who had set IIT on fire but still good enough for America. Whether or not the Tarasoff decision is justified, therapists in many jurisdictions are now required to follow it. Poddar stated to the university health science psychologist that he intended to kill an unnamed woman, who was identified as Tatiana Tarasoff. Poddar seemed to Tarasoff like a kind, if intense, young man, but in fact he was unlike most every other UC Berkeley student. Siddharth SARKAR, Professor (Associate) of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (AIIMS) | Read 274 publications | Contact Siddharth SARKAR Though the Tarasoff murder is an extreme example, it reflects the ethical decisions many therapists are called upon to make. But America hasn’t forgotten Prosenjit Poddar. The doctor does not warn the woman and she is killed by Poddar. The murder of Tatiana Tarasoff by Prosenjit Poddar resulted in five published legal opinions by various California courts: Regarding the wrongful death action filed in civil court, see Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 275; Tarasoff v. Though the state opted not to retry the case, Poddar was deported to India where he lives in relative anonymity (and has since married). The patient says he is going to go home tonight and punch his wife in the jaw. Simply telling a potentially violent patient that threats are taken seriously and that the therapist is willing to make that extra effort to defuse the risk of violence can make a difference. Plaintiffs, Tatiana's parents, allege that two months earlier Poddar confided his intention to kill Tatiana to Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist. If we can involuntarily commit a patient who has suicidal ideation with plans to kill themselves, why wouldn't we take a threat to human life seriously in any case? Bersoff also suggested the following scenarios: When presented to his students or colleagues, Bersoff reported that he often received varied responses on how the Tarasoff law should be applied in these different situations. Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California. The court instructed in terms of second degree felony murder, the purported underlying felony being assault with a deadly weapon. How I Controlled Communication With My Narcissistic Mother, Psychology Today © 2020 Sussex Publishers, LLC, 3 Simple Questions Screen for Common Personality Disorders, Research Suggests Coronavirus Causes a Storm in the Brain, What to Do About Vaccine Hesitancy During COVID-19, New Findings Reveal Benefits of Ketamine for Depression. The court decision based the concept of a "special relationship" between therapist and patient on the responsibility that physicians have in protecting society from dangerous patients (such as a violent patient escaping from a psychiatric hospital). As Bersoff points out, therapists cannot predict actual risk of violence and there is no way to be certain that violence would occur if they fail to act. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. PROSENJIT PODDAR, Defendant and Appellant. Despite his promise, Prosenjit Poddar continued the stalking behaviour. Therapeutic counseling still had a long ways to go and still has a long way to go, as do most forms of medical treatments. They gave him a deal: stay away from America and you are free to do what you want; come back and we will prosecute you. No. If mental health professionals could in any way, shape, or form, guarantee the success of their treatment, I might consider their arguments against the Tarasoff warning valid. His … Sometimes they went out on dates, which usually did not amount to more than having ice cream together. In ruling on the case of Tarasoff v. 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