ON FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY FOR LEGAL AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Distinguished by its thoroughness and clarity, this superb handbook guides practitioners through the sometimes miasmic overlap between psychiatry and law. It's particularly and obviously relevant to legal practitioners who either prosecute or represent mentally disordered patients, or those who may be suspected of having a mental disorder.
Forensic psychiatry, as the term indicates, is cross-disciplinary. It's defined by the learned authors as comprising `the psychiatry of mental disorder and offending behaviours, plus law in relation to all psychiatry'. Both of these aspects are represented in this handbook.
`It is not possible either effectively or ethically,' say the authors, `to guide an offender patient through the justice system... or properly to assist the justice system in dealing with mentally disordered offenders, without a real understanding of legal process and of the interface between law and psychiatry'.
The stated aim of the authors is to summarise and describe areas of law which are relevant to this interface, thus rendering the handbook of immense value, not just to lawyers, but for clinicians whose work is regulated by the law.
Part of the Oxford Medical Publications Library published by the Oxford University Press, this handbook of almost 700 pages, is actually the first edition of `Forensic Psychiatry' and like the other specialist handbooks in psychiatry published by the OUP, it's formatted as a quick reference tool -- compact yet authoritative and complete - and designed to save the busy practitioner valuable time.
It's written by a distinguished team of forensic psychiatrists and psychologists working in consultation with over thirty other experts who have contributed their advice, including, certainly, psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as lawyers, judges and academics.
Here -- to cite just one example -- is where, if you're a lawyer, you would look for guidance in understanding the psychiatrist's court report, or the risk assessment offered to the court.
The Handbook is divided into five parts covering, for example in Parts II and III, clinical forensic psychiatry and the ethics of forensic psychiatry. Parts IV and V examines the law relevant to psychiatry, and then psychiatry within the legal system. There are no less than six appendices providing convenient reference to diagnostic classifications, statutes, legal cases, ethical codes and important inquiries and reports.
There's also a quick reference to mental health law and a detailed index at the back for further ease of use. For clear, concise guidance on all aspects of forensic psychiatry, this is the ideal handbook for a wide range of professionals dealing with mental health in both the legal and medical professions, and it's a fundamental tool for advocates in these hard cases.