Saturday, October 27, 2012

What I Learned Part 3

Oh my...I still have one more day to go at the conference and my brain is already full.

The award for Weird Presentation of the Week (and that's saying a lot at a forensic conference!) goes to the poster on zoophilic interests in cases of Asperger's syndrome. I'll say no more about that. Just make sure you know who's petting your dog.

Another poster was an interesting case presentation about sleep apnea and anger and hostility. Apparently treatment with continuous positive airway pressure therapy has lead to significant improvement in irritability for sleep apnea sufferers. You might want to read a little bit about previous research on this here.

I enjoyed a panel discussion about ethical issues in forensic evaluations, particularly as it related to interviews of collateral informants. Although non-confidentiality warnings are routinely given, there is still the possibility that an informant may volunteer self-incriminating information or information that falls under a mandatory reporting duty.

Unfortunately, our luncheon speaker was held up in Tennessee and couldn't make his talk. I was looking forward to listening to Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test. Instead we heard a talk by Dr. Phil Resnick about the relationship between paranoid delusions and violence. In addition to hearing a number of good anecdotes, we learned that delusions are more highly correlated with violence than command hallucinations.

The best session of the day was a panel presentation about false confessions. This has always been an interest of mine, but I've rarely had the opportunity to hear the people who have done the original research. I learned a lot about the Reid technique, including which techniques are commonly used and how the techniques are varied depending upon the presence of mental illness. I learned that of people exonerated by DNA, 16% had given detailed confessions. Overall, 80% of defendants waive their Miranda rights. In Canada, interrogations don't have to end when a defendant asks for a lawyer or when he claims his right to avoid self-incrimination. One panelist presented the results of a survey of 332 Baltimore County police officers regarding their understanding of juvenile development and their use of interrogation techniques. The survey showed that even though they understood the developmental differences between juveniles and adults, their actual interrogation practices were no different.

I listened to a presentation about the new diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder coming out in DSM-5. In a word: ugh. Don't ask me how people are going to interpret the "self-identity" and "self-direction" criteria. The requirement for childhood conduct disorder will be dropped. I'm predicting even greater diagnostic discrepancies than what we have now.

Finally, a group from West Virginia presented some background information about an ongoing survey project regarding the use of social media in forensic evaluations. There wasn't a lot of data available yet because many of the forensic fellows had not received the survey (it was sent to all program directors and their students). Social media use by forensic psychiatrists was not directly correlated to age. Both early and late career forensic psychiatrists used it. There was a good overview of how social media content could be used in both civil and criminal cases. During the question session I added a comment about social media use in medical education as well.

Tomorrow is the last day, then I make my way back through the storm (or hopefully, ahead of the storm). Wish me luck.