Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 370–376 | Cite as

Why “Trauma-Related Dissociation” Is a Misnomer in Courts: a Critical Analysis of Brand et al. (2017a, b)

  • Harald MerckelbachEmail author
  • Lawrence Patihis


Forensic psychologists are sometimes faced with the task of educating triers of fact about the evidential weight of dissociative experiences reported by claimants in litigation procedures. In their two-part essay, Brand et al. (Psychological Injury and Law, 10, 283–297, 2017a; Psychological Injury and Law, 10, 298–312, 2017b) provide advice to experts who find themselves in such situation. We argue that the Brand et al. approach is problematic and might induce confirmation bias in experts. Their approach is not well connected to the extant literature on recovered memories, dissociative amnesia, memory distortions, and symptom validity testing. In some instances, Brand et al. (Psychological Injury and Law, 10, 283–297, 2017a; Psychological Injury and Law, 10, 298–312, 2017b) simplify the current body of knowledge about dissociation; in other instances, they ignore relevant empirical studies to an extent that is worrisome.


Dissociative symptoms Symptom validity Biases Expert witness testimony 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

No informed consent was needed for this commentary.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this commentary.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forensic Psychology Section, Faculty of Psychology and NeuroscienceMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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