Multiple personality disorder in criminal law.
M. Steinberg, J. Bancroft and J. Buchanan,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
21(3): 345-56, 1993.
The authors review the recent literature on multiple personality disorder (MPD), the most severe and
chronic of the dissociative disorders, in relation to court cases of competence to stand trial, the
insanity defense, and research on malingerers feigning MPD. Issues relevant in the assessment of
competency and insanity are described. Features characteristic of MPD, including amnesia and
alterations in consciousness and personality, have varying degrees of influence over the criminal
behavior of an individual with MPD. As in other psychiatric disorders, the influence of MPD on an
individual's competence to stand trial, and sanity, can be evaluated systematically. This article
discusses a specific diagnostic tool, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative
Disorders (SCID-D), an extensively field tested instrument that is potentially quite useful in forensic
assessment of suspects manifesting dissociative symptoms and disorders. The particular advantages
of the SCID-D will be reviewed in the context of some well known criminal cases involving MPD.
Further research using diagnostic interviews for the systematic assessment of dissociative symptoms
and MPD in criminal cases will continue to clarify the influence of these symptoms in a forensic
context. [References: 47]