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From The CriticsReviewer: Terri L. Vital, MD (Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center)
Description: This practical text is an outline of clinical methods used for the assessment of criminal responsibility; relevant clinical and legal issues are also illuminated. This timely edition is an update of the initial version published in 1986.
Purpose: The authors outline the essential issues for mental health professionals assessing defendants for criminal responsibility, update clinical methods, and provide explicit standards for forensic practice. Their comprehensive approach to a commonly addressed topic in forensic mental health serves as a valuable guide for both mental health professionals and attorneys.
Audience: This book is a helpful primer for any mental health professional or member of the legal profession. Overall, the balanced discussion of pertinent issues makes this book exceedingly readable for psychiatrists, psychologists, and general and forensic practitioners.
Features: The authors cover the clinician's role in insanity evaluations, the expert-attorney relationship, legal standards, and the critical topics of malingering and deception as well as amnesia and dissociation. In the clinical methods section of the book, the authors elaborate the process of conducting an assessment of criminal responsibility beginning with the interview and proceeding through psychological testing, the use of structured interview approaches, and laboratory and special assessment techniques. They wrap up with detailed recommendations for synthesizing and communicating the findings.
Assessment: In this edition the authorsdocument changes in relevant legal standards and draw upon a larger database of clinical information than the first edition. Throughout the text, the authors give illustrative examples to clarify their points. The chapter on comparison of structured interviews makes for lively and interesting reading. Because the broad scope of the evaluation process is encompassed and the authors address theoretical as well as pragmatic concerns that typically arise in these cases, this book is as a useful introduction for the novice forensic expert or attorney. Seasoned veterans in the field will find it to be well documented, from both clinical and legal perspectives.