The use of PTSD as a foundation for the insanity defense is rare. Yet, there is a high prevalence of debilitating trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms among criminal offenders, both men and women. In criminal responsibility (CR) evaluations the severity of the symptoms may influence findings. How then is the assessment of trauma histories and posttraumatic reactions evaluated in legal contexts? It is not. Courts have been more concerned with malingering as it relates to this diagnosis. The A.L.I.'s (American Law Institute) formulation for CR provides that a defendant will not be held criminally responsible if at the time of the behavior in question “as a result of a mental disease or defect, s/he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his/her conduct or to conform his/her conduct to the requirements of the law. If the crime occurred during a dissociative flashback (a symptom of PTSD), it seems an argument for impairment in the defendant's capacity to appreciate the criminality of their conduct can be made. There has been a dearth of psychiatric research examining the role of PTSD sequela in violent criminal behavior. PTSD can also develop after stressful , frightening or distressing events or after a prolonged… Read full this story
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