Two psychologists that frequently testify on behalf of opposing sides in court went head-to-head during the seventh day of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial.
The first was Dr. Elliot Atkins, a psychologist hired by Sandusky's defense team. He testified that Sandusky suffers from histrionic personality disorder.
Specifically, Atkins was called upon in order to offer an explanation for the letters Sandusky wrote -- called "creepy love letters" by the person referred to as "Victim 4," to whom they were written. He said that content in these letters can be explained by the disorder.
Karl Rominger, an attorney representing Sandusky, asked Atkins to read excerpts of the letters to show the jury what he felt was sufficient evidence for the diagnosis.
One of Sandusky's letters to the person referred to as "Victim 4" read, "I write because of the turning in my own stomach when you don't care." Atkins said this is an example of someone with the disorder and their high expectations of other people. He said that it is common for people who have histrionic personality disorder to expect an unrealistic amount of loyalty and appreciation.
Sandusky's clear admittance in the letters that he is an unusual and extremely emotional person is evidence of the disorder, Atkins said.
Atkins also testified that the book Sandusky co-authored, his autobiography "Touched," and the letters all led to this diagnosis, as did a 6-hour interview with Sandusky and an interview with his wife, Dottie.
"Often these are people who did not have much success in relationships in the past - [they feel they need to] reach out to the people who are more likely to look up to them," Atkins said.
Atkins read from a slide show in order to help the jury understand the diagnosis. He said seeking attention, having emotions that cannot be controlled and considering relationships to be more intimate than they actually are were common symptoms of the disorder.
Meanwhile, Dr. John O'Brien, a psychologist retained by the prosecution shortly after the defense hired Atkins, said that he did not agree with the diagnosis after reviewing the computer-generated reports from the tests given by Atkins as well as interviewing Sandusky on this past Sunday, June 17.
O'Brien said that he was "very struck" by Atkins' definition of the disorder, adding that there is no sufficient proof that suggests Sandusky had any personality disorder that was causing him problems. He said that the letters have been misconstrued and are actually "highly manipulative."
One thing that both psychologists agree on is that Sandusky was not honest during the psychological testing, they said.
Atkins said that testing indicated Sandusky tries very hard to make his problems seem smaller than they are in reality and that it is obvious that Sandusky does not want people to see that he is having any issues. Therefore, his personality disorder is most likely worse than it seems.
Likewise, O'Brien said Sandusky denied having any problems and tried to present himself in an "overly positive light."
He said this tendency displayed by Sandusky is the reason Dr. Atkins believes Sandusky has Histrionic Personality Disorder. However, O'Brien said the results of the tests do not support this diagnosis.
"One cannot accept the results of the tests on face-value," O'Brien said.
Atkins stands by his diagnosis and believes it is one of the reasons Sandusky is in his current situation.
"His behavior was inappropriate -- it caused him to be viewed as suspicious [throughout] his life...his ability to sustain adult relationships was not normal, he needed to seek out relationships where people look up to him," Atkins said.
The prosecution argued that Atkins' diagnosis was very vague and that nearly everyone has histrionic personality disorder if the symptoms are as Atkins described.
Atkins said that everyone -- to some degree -- meets some of the criteria for the disorder, but not enough to be diagnosed. He said that he comes "very close" to meeting the diagnosis of the disorder himself.