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Handbook of Forensic Psychiatric Practice in Capital Cases


correct pre-morbid measure for each version of the WAIS-IV. New assessments should use the Test of Pre-Morbid Functioning (TOPF). Assessments using the WAIS-III should use the Weschler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR) and the WAIS-R should be paired with the National Test of Adult Reading (NART).


Assessment of current intellectual functioning


A range of tests of current intellectual functioning, memory and concentration (WAIS-IV, WMS-IV) will usually be required, along with executive functioning testing (BADS, Stroop, Trailmaking). Te combination of pre-morbid and current tests allows for opinions to be given about cognitive decline, or, support the notion of developmental impairment or learning disability.


Substance misuse


Te link between substance misuse and offending has been well established, and the nature of the misuse in an individual is important to understand in terms of identification of treatment targets (relevant where advice on sentencing is offered, or for a parole hearing).


One of the most robust measures of harmful substance misuse is the Leeds Dependency Questionnaire (LDQ). Tis is a self-report measure, with the associated drawbacks, but it does offer a measure of change over time in a meaningful way. A further strength of the LDQ is that it offers a guide as to how severe the dependence is.


Some specific personality testing thought to be related to substance misusers, including the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS), may be used.


Memory disorder/amnesia


Apparent absence of memory (amnesia) is a common topic of assessment for clinical psychologists, both in court cases and in routine clinical work. Tere are robust psychometric tools for the measurement of memory functioning, as well as psychological models of mind that can offer suggestions about why memory loss may have occurred (through organic brain deficit or psychological factors).


Te question of ‘why’ memory loss has occurred is often the most important question for the court. Te determination of whether the cause is organic or psychogenic, or functional, may be difficult to achieve, particularly when one is also considering the possibility that the individual may be malingering (see below).


Some researchers divide amnesic states into ‘discrete’ and ‘persistent’ loss and suggests the following possible reasons for each.


Medical causes of discrete temporary amnesia may include:


• Toxic confusional states (including alcohol intoxication) • Head injury • Epileptic seizures


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