The psychological autopsy: a useful tool for determining proximate causation in
D. Jacobs and M. Klein-Benheim,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
23(2): 165-82, 1995.
This overview article examines the applications of the psychological autopsy method in determining
proximate causation in suicide cases. The article reviews the history of the psychological autopsy
and describes its procedure and how it has proved helpful in explicating proximate causation. The
five standards currently used by the courts to determine proximate causation in suicide cases are
described, as are a variety of applications of the psychological autopsy method, including its
application to workers' compensation cases, product liability cases, and medical malpractice cases.
In particular, issues of prediction and protection are addressed. Finally, there is a discussion of an
application of the psychological autopsy to criminal cases. The article concludes with a discussion
of the issues raised in the use of the psychological autopsy during expert testimony and the
considerations that should be addressed by an expert witness contemplating the use of the
psychological autopsy method. [References: 53]