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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: Written by a clinician with significant experience in, and understanding of, the complex and challenging field of forensic psychiatry, this book contains data about various psychiatric illnesses and their relation to homicide.
Purpose: While the author offers many different reasons for penning a second edition of this work, the primary one seems to be an attempt to bridge the gap between the legal appreciation for homicide and a psychiatric perspective on the act that is frequently poorly understood.
Audience: Individuals with an interest in forensic psychiatry might find this book appealing, as might those with a morbid curiosity about homicide. However, most of those who would benefit from reading this are legal professionals and those intimately involved in the day-to-day issues surrounding mental health issues in a forensic population.
Features: Many of the chapters are divided into understanding specific psychiatric diagnoses (for example, schizophrenia) and their relationship to the act of homicide. This includes research, risk assessment, and legal issues such as state of mind at the time of the crime. Case examples are used to illustrate specific challenges or highlight certain vital information for the reader. There are no graphs or diagrams, and references are complete and current.
Assessment: Though I have not read the first edition of this work, I was impressed by the author's comprehension of the topics and his ability to explain complicated ideas succinctly. Some of the text can be disturbing and uncomfortable to read (i.e., the chapter on sexual homicide), but the purpose of the graphic descriptions is not to shock the reader, only to paint a realistic picture of the story. The chapter, "Legal Versus Clinical Views on Homicide" provides exceptional insight into the struggle between the legal and clinical understanding of this horrific act.