Publications & Presentations
Psychological Autopsy and Postmortem Toxicology in Forensic Psychiatry
The term “psychological autopsy” was coined by Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman, who stated, “the psychological autopsy is no less than a reconstruction of the motivations, philosophy, psychodynamics, and existential crisis of the decedent.” Psychological autopsy is a specific example of forensic retrospective assessment of mental state.
DSM-5 and Personal Injury Litigation
DSM-5 has reorganized, added, and altered multiple diagnoses in the transition from the DSM-IV. Many of these changes may impact how claims of psychiatric injuries (to include emotional distress) are evaluated in malpractice, personal injury, and “addiction” civil litigation cases.
Forensic Aspects of Substance Abuse and Addiction
In a society in which approximately one in five Americans will have a problem with substance abuse during their lifetime, an understanding of the basic issues of substance abuse is a necessity for forensic psychiatrists as substance dependence, abuse, and addiction may be relevant in many forensic evaluations.
Legal Issues in Inpatient Psychiatry
Of the approximately 30,000 suicides annually in the United States, some 5% to 6% occur in the hospital. Inpatient suicides usually occur within the first week of admission. In addition, suicide is more common during shift changes and in the days and weeks following discharge. Liability is based on the suicide being foreseeable. When a suicidal patient has been hospitalized, whether on a voluntary or involuntary basis, the hospital and staff have been put on notice and have a duty, greater than with outpatients, to take reasonable steps to protect such an inpatient from self-harm.
Forensic Neuropsychiatric Issues
Behavioral abnormalities can be a central issue in criminal and civil legal proceedings. Brain disease is frequently the basis for behavioral abnormalities involving disturbances of thinking, per-ceptions, emotions, and actions. Of great importance, any distinctly altered behavior or significantly changed personality must be considered evidence of organic brain disorder until ruled out by thorough and appropriate neuropsychiatric evaluation.
Craving Diagnostic Validity in DSM-5 Substance Use Disorders
Addiction is relevant in numerous contexts of civil and criminal law, and the imprecise fit between the concept of addiction and the diagnostic scheme of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been one of the challenges faced by forensic psychiatrists in navigating the boundary between clinical psychiatry and the justice system.
Suicide In the Courtroom
A [clinician] is negligent if [he/she] fails to use the level of skill, knowledge, and care in diagnosis and treatment that other reasonably careful [clinicians] would use in similar circumstances. This level of skill, knowledge, and care is sometimes referred to as ‘the standard of care.