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Let's use those tests! : Evaluations of crime-related amnesia claims

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Suspects awaiting trial often claim that they cannot remember important parts of their violent crimes. It is not unusual that forensic experts readily accept such claims and interpret them in terms of dissociative amnesia or, more specifically, a red-out. This interpretation hinges on the assumption that heightened levels of stress implicated in violent crimes interfere with memory. We argue that the notion of red-out is a priori not plausible and that alternative interpretationsprimarily malingering and substance-induced organic amnesiashould be considered and ruled out first before concluding that memory loss is dissociative in nature. We illustrate our point with four cases that superficially have thecontours of red-out tragedies. We believe that, in such cases, neuropsychological tests and/or psychopharmacological information on dose-response relationships can assist forensic experts to exclude malingering or substance-induced amnesia. There is no reason for not using tests and tools from neuropsychology and psychopharmacology.

    Research areas

  • Crime-related amnesia, Red-out, Malingering, Neuropsychological testing, Psychopharmacology, THOUGHT SUPPRESSION, MEMORY, ALCOHOL, BLACKOUTS, ZOLPIDEM, ISSUES
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-607
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013