edited by Robert I. Simon, M.D., and Liza H. Gold, M.D.; Arlington, Virginia, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2004, 624 pages, $84
Dr. Sorrentino is the director of forensic psychiatry at the Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, Boston.
The stated goals of the Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry are to provide the basic information that general clinicians need to discharge forensic obligations in a competent manner and to help clinicians recognize that certain areas of forensic practice require the skills of a forensic specialist. This textbook is geared toward general clinicians who become involved in forensic work in addition to forensic specialists who want to expand their level of expertise. Each chapter provides practical guidelines to help clinicians structure their approach to each subject as well as suggested readings for those who want to further explore a given subject. The authors of the chapters are acknowledged clinical, as well as forensic, experts.
The book is divided into four sections: Introduction to Forensic Psychiatry, Civil Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Special Topics. The introductory section focuses on the distinction between clinical and forensic practice and the implication of these differences. The second and third sections provide practical guidelines for performing various forensic evaluations. The last section on special topics includes chapters on malingering, children and adolescents, personal violence, prediction instruments, and forensic psychological testing.
The textbook is well organized and clearly written. Each chapter is organized around case vignettes and includes a review of key concepts, practical guidelines, and references for further reading. The glossary of legal terms and the legal case index are valuable references.
I recommend this book to general psychiatrists who become involved in forensic assessments, forensic psychiatrists who wish to expand their knowledge base, and residents and fellows who have an interest in forensic psychiatry.