Firebug! Dissociative Identity Disorder? Malingering? Or ...? An Intensive Case Study of an Arsonist
JournalPsychological Injury and Law
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AbstractCourts struggle with questions of how to assess competency to stand trial (CTS) and not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) in dissociative identity disorder (DID). Concerns about CTS include dissociative amnesia and unpredictable switching behaviors that could cause inconsistent information transfer across self states, with the defendant unable to access important legal information about his/her defense and to collaborate with his/her attorney; DID defendants could not conform their conduct to the law or know right from wrong due to dissociative amnesia, the seemingly independent actions of self states, and the disruption of reality testing by switching. The author presents the case of a woman charged with both a witnessed and an unwitnessed burglary and arson, the latter at the home of her former therapist. The author was the fourth forensic evaluator in the case. Disagreements included whether the defendant met diagnostic criteria for DID or was malingering, and whether she was CTS and/or NGRI. In clinical work with DID, "the whole human being" is held responsible for all behavior, despite reported amnesia or lack of subjective agency. The Discrete Behavioral States (DBS) model of DID avoids reification of the DID self states and their conflation as separate "people." This model supports evaluating the defendant at the level of specific self states, the self-state system, and that of the whole human being. The author concluded that the defendant met diagnostic criteria for DID and also was malingering its severity. She was competent to stand trial and legally sane. Copyright 2020, The Author(s).
Competence to stand trial
Dissociative identity disorder
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttps://www.scopus.com/inward/record.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85086775150&doi=10.1007%2fs12207-020-09377-8&partnerID=40&md5=8206f91447f69e87d46484d01f8200f2; http://hdl.handle.net/10713/13192