IPT Book Reviews


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Litigation: Guidelines for Forensic Assessment  Positive Review  Positive Review

Editor: Robert I. Simon
Publisher: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1995

American Psychiatric Press, Inc.
1400 K Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
(800) 368-5777
$28.50 (c)

In this 147-page book, a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the context of litigation is characterized as a growth industry. The six chapters in this volume are an effort to restore some professionalism and credibility to the use of PTSD in the courts. The book provides numerous recommended guidelines for making the diagnosis in a competent, professional manner. References follow each chapter and there is an index at the end.

The most complete chapter is that by Simon which deals with five standard questions that should be asked about every PTSD claim. A careful analysis of each question provides a framework for evaluating the merits and reliability of any PTSD diagnosis. This chapter also makes it clear that reasoning backward from claimed symptoms of a subjective report to prove an uncorroborated claim is not a proper use of the diagnosis. The first requirement is that there be a known stressor event severe enough to produce the disorder.

In child sexual abuse allegations, frequently a diagnosis of PTSD is given to a child even when the facts do not meet the requisite requirements for making the diagnosis. It is also used to infer backwards in time to buttress and support the veracity of a claimed stressor experience for which there is no corroboration. Therefore, this book is extremely useful for any professional who deals with PTSD claims in the course of litigation, especially when the litigation involves allegations of sexual abuse. This includes judges, attorneys, and mental health and medical professionals.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.

Order this book: Hardcover

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