Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
White, T. W. 2010. Psychological Autopsy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Approximately five decades ago, the term psychological autopsy first appeared in the mental health literature. The methodology is most often associated with cases of completed suicide and involves constructing a psychological profile of the deceased during the time immediately prior to death. By conducting interviews with significant individuals, reviewing records, and investigating events that appear to bear directly on the deceased's emotional state, investigators seek to determine the motivation or circumstances that may have contributed to the death. Initially, it was utilized as a clinical tool to assist coroners and medical examiners in determining the cause of death in equivocal cases (Clark & Horton-Deutsch, 1992), but the technique has evolved over the years to become a recognized research, clinical, and forensic tool. Yet despite this general acceptance, the methodology still has many critics and a number of legitimate shortcomings that severely limit its utility in some settings (Pouliot & De Leo, 2006) while offering promise in others (Aufderheide, 2000).
- psychological autopsy;
- suicide causation