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Ethical Issues in the Forensic Assessment of Posttraumatic Symptoms 

Ethical Issues in the Forensic Assessment of Posttraumatic Symptoms
Ethical Issues in the Forensic Assessment of Posttraumatic Symptoms

Edmund G. Howe

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date: 28 January 2022

This chapter examines the core challenges and questions that forensic psychiatrists may encounter when making determinations of factors such as criminal responsibility and disability. It begins by addressing considerations that trauma-related symptoms and behaviors might raise in all legal contexts, for example, whether all the diagnostic criteria should be required to render diagnosis in a medico-legal assessment. It then discusses ethical and legal questions that may arise during evaluation for criminal responsibility and disability. It also considers the idea that, although psychiatrists conducting forensic exams have historically viewed themselves as adopting a different allegiance (i.e., to the state or the court), they might instead seek to find ways to retain their first loyalty to patients. Arguments justifying such alteration and examples of where—if not how—this might be operationalized are noted in the final section of this chapter.

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