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Introducing Psychological Injury and Law

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Psychology injury and law is a specialized forensic psychology field that concerns reaching legal thresholds for actionable negligent or related injuries having a psychological component, such as for posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and mild traumatic brain injury. The presenting psychological injuries have to be related causally to the event at issue, and if pre-existing injuries, vulnerabilities, or psychopathologies are involved at baseline, they have to be exacerbated by the event at issue, or added to in unique ways such that the psychological effects of the event at issue go beyond the de minimis range. The articles in this special issue deal with the legal aspects of cases of psychological injury, including in legal steps and procedures to follow and the causal question of whether an index event is responsible for claimed injuries. They deal with the major psychological injuries, and others such as somatic symptom disorder and factitious disorder. They address best practices in assessment such that testimony and reports proffered to court are probative, i.e., helping the trier of fact to arrive at judicious decisions. The articles in the special issue review the reliable and valid tests in the field, including those that examine negative response bias, negative impression management, symptom exaggeration, feigning, and possible malingering. The latter should be ruled in only through the most compelling evidence in the whole file of an examinee, including test results and inconsistencies. The court will engage in admissibility challenges when testimony, reports, opinions, conclusions, and recommendations do not meet the expected standards of being scientific, comprehensive, impartial, and having considered all the reliable data at hand. The critical topics in the field that cut across the articles in the special issue relate to (a) conceptual and definitional issues, (b) confounds and confusions, (c) assessment and testing, (d) feigning/malingering, and (e) medicolegal/legal/court implications. The articles in the special issue are reviewed in terms of these five themes.

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Correspondence to Gerald Young.

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Young, G., Foote, W.E., Kerig, P.K. et al. Introducing Psychological Injury and Law. Psychol. Inj. and Law 13, 452–463 (2020).

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