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Who done it, actually? Dissociative identity disorder for the criminologist

Abstract

Through the analysis of clinical examples, the paper explores how decisions are made by a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), the notions of choice and ‘competent reasoning’, and the practical and ethical ways for interviewing a person with DID. Abstract Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is examined in this paper from the perspective of its relevance to the criminologist. As this psychiatric condition is linked to severe and prolonged childhood abuse, accounts of DID patients inevitably involve reports of serious crimes, in which the person was the victim, perpetrator or witness. These reports can thus contain crucial information for criminal investigations by the police or for court proceedings. However, due to the person’s dissociation, such reports are often very confusing, hard to follow, hard to believe and difficult to obtain. They also frequently state that the person had ‘no choice’, a thorny notion for the criminologist (as well as for the clinician). Through the analysis of clinical examples, the paper explores how decisions are made by a person with DID, the notions of choice and ‘competent reasoning’, and the practical and ethical ways for interviewing a person with DID

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