May 30, 2008

Case study on malingering diagnosis

I was excited when I picked up my mail today to find an advance copy of the latest issue of the Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, with a long overdue article by me on malingering. As you can probably guess from the title, "Malingering as a Dichotomous Variable: Case Report on an Insanity Defendant," the article evolved out of a forensic case in which I was retained. I testified as an expert witness on the issue of insanity. The article critiques certain practices at an unnamed but easily identifiable state hospital.

Here is the abstract:

Malingering in forensic contexts has garnered increased attention in recent years. As a result, the past two decades have seen the development of more than a half dozen instruments to assess response styles. Although these instruments are gaining unprecedented popularity among forensic practitioners, there is little research on how closely practitioners adhere to the published guidelines for administration or interpretation. This article provides a case study of the use of one popular instrument, the Structured Inventory of Reported Symptoms, in an insanity case. Misinterpretation of the defendant’s scores contributed to the misclassification of malingering, which was used to bolster the government’s case at trial. This case suggests the need for better training and more caution when using instruments to assess response styles in forensic contexts.

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