2007 issue 4

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Volume 16, issue 4

Case report

Sources of discrepancies in forensic psychological opinions

Anna Pilszyk1,2,3, Ewa Waszkiewicz1,2,3, Teresa Gordon1,2,3
1. Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
2. III Klinika Psychiatryczna Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
3. Oddział Psychiatrii Sądowej Szpitala Psychiatrycznego w Tworkach
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2007; 16 (4): 351-355
Keywords: forensic psychological opinion, formal errors, diagnostic errors, erroneous interpretation, case reports

Abstract

Objectives. Discrepancies in forensic psychological opinions concerning the same case are relatively frequent. Such differences of opinion make the judiciary authorities distrustful of expert psychologists' professional competence and result in appointing new experts.

Case reports. Several relevant cases are described in the paper and the reasons of differences in forensic psychological opinions are discussed. The discrepancies resulted either from formal errors, an inappropriate choice of diagnostic methods, or from erroneous interpretation.

Commentary. These causes of discrepancies in psychological opinions could be avoided or at least minimized if standards for expert reports were developed and propagated. Such standards would serve expert psychologists as a model to be followed in their preparation of clear, coherent and comparable opinions, comprehensible and easily assessable by courts. The development of such a standard is being discussed.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Anna Pilszyk
Klinika Psychiatrii Sądowej Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii
ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa