Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook

Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook

Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook

Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook


This is the first casebook focusing specifically on forensic assessment. It contains cases from a broad range of civil, criminal, and family legal questions, described in case reports contributed by expert forensic psychologists and psychiatrists. It will be useful for anyone involved in assessments for the courts and attorneys, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and attorneys.


There has not yet been a casebook in forensic mental health assessment (FMHA). Given the growth and important development in the forensic specializations of psychology, psychiatry, and other mental health professions, it seemed time to develop one.

We had a number of purposes in constructing the book as we did. One of the most important was to provide the field with case material from forensic reports, which are the most frequently used means of conveying the results of FMHA to attorneys and legal decision makers. We were fortunate enough to persuade a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, each selected for national reputation and specialization, to provide us with case reports from their respective practices. Although these case reports (with one exception) are disguised and altered so they do not come from a single case, they represent “real” case material. They provide legal and mental health professionals, administrators, policymakers, and trainees with a good overview of different kinds of FMHA performed by highly competent forensic specialists.

We also wanted to integrate these forensic case reports with broad principles of FMHA to show how such principles apply to different kinds of forensic assessment. In this sense, the present book was written as a companion to Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment (Heilbrun, 2001), which describes the derivation and support for 29 broad principles of FMHA. Those interested in how these principles might be applied to FMHA cases can see how we did this in the introduction to each case.

Finally, there are very specific questions about FMHA that cannot be covered well with broad principles. We took a number of questions like this and formulated “teaching points”—particular questions about a substantive or procedural aspect of FMHA—that were addressed following each case. Some of the case report contributors were also kind enough to answer these teaching point questions, providing the reader with a broader overview of perspectives than the three of us could offer.

Our biggest acknowledgment goes to the book's contributors. A number of individuals (Stanley Brodsky, Joel Dvoskin, Bill Foote, Geoff McKee, Reid Meloy, Robert Meyer, Lois Oberlander, Randy Otto, Norman Poythress, Phillip Resnick, Robert Sadoff, David Shapiro, Karin Towers, Herbert Weissman, and Lauren Wylonis) contributed case reports. David Martindale and Michael . . .

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