Vera Eftimovska

Vera Eftimovska

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Vera Eftimovska
Apr 01, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Delinquent behaviours are most common in adolescence, and some young people show persistent crime involvement until adulthood. A decent number of studies have investigated a wide variety of factors trying to explain what contributes to young people’s first and repeated criminal conduct. On the one hand, situational factors enhance a juvenile’s risk of committing criminal behaviours. Yet, research has claimed that juvenile crime may be partly explainable by psychosocial burden. This includes adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and maladaptive personality development. A recent study, “Adverse Childhood Experiences, Personality, and Crime: Distinct Associations among a High-Risk Sample of Institutionalized Youth” - DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19031227 tried to explain the associations among ACEs, youth personality, and juvenile crime involvement. among delinquent juveniles. The authors examined a heterogeneous high-risk sample of 342 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years, living in child welfare or juvenile justice institutions regarding cumulative ACEs, psychopathic traits, temperament, and clinical personality disorder ratings, and criminal involvement before and up to 10 years after assessment. They “found considerable rates of ACEs, although cumulative ACEs did not predict future crime. Latent Profile Analysis based on dimensional measures of psychopathy, temperament, and personality disorders derived six distinct personality profiles, which were differently related to ACEs, personality disturbances, clinical psychopathology, and future delinquency. A socially difficult personality profile was associated with increased risk of future crime, whereas avoidant personality traits appeared protective. Findings indicate that the role of ACEs in the prediction of juvenile delinquency is still not sufficiently clear and that relying on single personality traits alone is insufficient in the explanation of juvenile crime.”
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 30, 2022
In Psychopathy
Most psychological research comes from studies performed with men. So the research on the conceptualisation of psychopathy and the studies investigating the association between psychopathic traits and age are no exception. These previous studies suggest that certain psychopathic traits vary with age. For instance, younger men (compared to older men) score higher on psychopathic traits measuring impulsive-antisocial behaviour, like impulsivity, irresponsibility, and criminal versatility. Psychopathic traits reflecting core personality traits of interpersonal and affective dysfunction, like conning and manipulative behaviour and lack of empathy, guilt, and remorse, younger and older men remain relatively stable across different age categories. "Do psychopathic traits vary with age among women? A cross-sectional investigation" - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358554712_Do_psychopathic_traits_vary_with_age_among_women_A_cross-sectional_investigation is an excellent article aiming to determine whether psychopathic traits vary similarly with age among women. This study measured psychopathy scores via the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [PCL-R]) among a sample of 501 incarcerated women ranging from 19 to 57 years. The results were consistent with previous studies performed with men. Younger women scored higher on psychopathic traits measuring impulsive-antisocial behaviour than older women. While the scores assessing core personality traits, including interpersonal and affective dysfunction, were comparable across women in different age categories. It seems like men and women are not so different when it comes to the variation and stability of specific psychopathic traits across the lifespan. The study's results are consistent with previous studies performed with samples composed entirely of men.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 28, 2022
In General Discussion
Kindness is one of the rare things that usually cost us nothing yet can mean the world to people. I believe that the world would be a much better place if we were all just a bit kinder - to ourselves and others. After all, they go hand in hand. But how does kindness reflect on our professional lives? The office usually is a place where positive experiences are mixed with a range of negative emotions. Unfortunately, experiencing anger, conflict, and stress while at work is common for most of us. Still, we can develop personal resilience by socializing and handling setbacks. According to a recent article, “Positive psychology: kindness and its role within mental health nursing” - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343463108_Positive_psychology_kindness_and_its_role_within_mental_health_nursing, a way to improving our survival in the organization is by using kindness interventions that aim to promote altruistic behaviours towards others while fostering positive emotions in ourselves. I hope you’ll enjoy this article focused on kindness and the practice of familiarising genuine caring feelings and actions towards colleagues. Did you think that your work environment would be better if your colleagues were kinder?
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 25, 2022
In General Discussion
The last Spider-Man movie opened up many discussions, but one quote caught my attention: “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed”. May sound obvious and quite pessimistic at first, but it makes a lot of sense and, as it turns out, is backed in a way by research. “Blessed are those who expect nothing: Lowering expectations as a way of avoiding disappointment” - https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-4870(02)00211-8 is an insightful paper that addresses how people try to avoid disappointment by lowering their expectations about obtaining a desired but uncertain outcome. The authors tested the hypothesis that people employ this strategy when two conditions are met. The first condition is the anticipation of self-relevant feedback about the attainment of the outcome. The second is regarding the timing of the anticipated feedback. Hence, the feedback is anticipated in the near future. The results support their hypothesis, showing that people only lowered their estimates concerning a test score when they expected immediate feedback on that test and when the test was relevant for them. Do you lower your expectations to avoid disappointment?
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 21, 2022
In General Discussion
The clocks went forward in the USA and will go forward in most countries in Europe in a couple of days. The ritual of switching between Daylight Savings Time (DST) and standard time has been an ongoing practice in many countries for almost a century. Yet, in the past few years, the debates on whether the ritual is necessary and its possible devastating consequences have been intensifying. “Suicides Before, During, and After Daylight Savings Time in the United States” - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/347179471_Suicides_Before_During_and_After_Daylight_Savings_Time_in_the_United_States is an excellent study designed to investigate differences in the number of suicides committed in the United States before, during, and after daylight savings time (DST). The literature offers conflicting views and suggests both a positive and negative effect of DST in society’s physical, mental, and behavioural aspects. This study gathers archival governmental public database data containing the total number of suicides by year and month from 2000 to 2017. The results, unfortunately, "demonstrated a statistically significant increase in suicides during DST. Most suicides were committed during July-October (M = 74.69, SD = 68.86), compared to March-June (M = 73.56, SD = 67.89), and November-February (M = 67.00, SD = 61.41)." It’s no wonder this study suggests eliminating DST altogether while emphasising the need for more research to determine the impact of these one hour time shifts in the Spring and Fall. Have you experienced consequences due to DST? Do you think it should be eliminated?
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 18, 2022
In Psychopathy
At first glance, selfishness, greed, and risk-taking seem like potentially problematic personality traits. On the other hand, cooperation and risk aversion are seen as evolutionarily advantageous in many circumstances. I came across an insightful paper, "Selfish risk-seeking can provide an evolutionary advantage in a conditional public goods game" – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0261340 that examines "whether there are environmental and social conditions that favour selfish risk-seeking individuals within a community and whether tolerating such individuals may provide benefits to the community itself in some circumstances." The results, as you might imagine, are pretty interesting. It turns out, selfish risk-seekers can outperform generous risk-averse agents in conditions where their survival is moderately challenged. This finding supports the theory that selfish and risk-seeking traits are not dysfunctional when combined but can be evolutionarily advantageous instead. The "results show how behaviours aligning with core characteristics of psychopathy were advantageous for agents, as long as the conditions were not extreme." Still, the authors urge us to remember that psychopathy is a much more complex set of behaviours, and they've considered only a small subset in their model. This paper and its agent-based model touches on the evolutionary role of a combination of traits (selfishness and risk-seeking) central to the psychopathy construct. The results point towards an evolutionarily adaptive role of selfishness and risk-seeking behaviours. They also marginally support the adaptive theory that psychopathic traits may not be a dysfunction after all but an adaptive consequence of human evolution.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 16, 2022
In Mental Disorders
Defence mechanisms are the automatic psychological responses that individuals use in response to anxiety and internal or external stress and conflict (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). It is baffling why some individuals do not perceive that some traits (e.g. impulsiveness), specific behaviours (e.g. self-mutilation), self-reported experiences (e.g. feelings of emptiness), and beliefs or cognitions (e.g. grandiose sense of self-importance) are often maladaptive and strive to supplant them with more adaptive ones. The defenses’ avoidance function may supply one answer to this enigma and explain the connection between defence mechanisms and personality disorders (PD). "Defense Mechanisms in Schizotypal, Borderline, Antisocial, and Narcissistic Personality Disorders" - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235785471_Defense_Mechanisms_in_Schizotypal_Borderline_Antisocial_and_Narcissistic_Personality_Disorders examines just this - the association between specific defence mechanisms and four PD types (schizotypal, borderline, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorder) and considers their potential role in personality functioning. The authors examined their hypotheses using dynamic interview data rated for defences of 107 participants diagnosed with the four personality disorder types mentioned above. They found that "the prevalence of immature defenses was substantial, and all four disorders fit within the broad borderline personality organization construct. Defenses predicted the most variance in borderline and the least variance in schizotypal personality disorder, suggesting that dynamic factors played the largest role in borderline and the least in schizotypal personality. Central to borderline personality were strong associations with major image-distorting defenses, primarily splitting of self and other’s images, and the hysterical level defenses, dissociation and repression. Narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders shared minor image-distorting defenses, such as omnipotence or devaluation, while narcissistic also used splitting of self-images and antisocial used disavowal defenses like denial. Overall, differential relationships between specific defenses and personality disorder types were largely consistent with the literature, and consistent with the importance that the treatment literature ascribes to working with defenses." This is a relatively old study, so it will be interesting to see any development in this area and how these insights are implemented in treating and preventing PD.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 14, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Is there more to our name than we might initially think? Slovenko (1980) states that a name identifies, distinguishes, provides control, alleviates anxiety, and is a means of self-expression. Given that it's one of our most prominent self-identifiers, why would we change it? There are many reasons, actually. One reason is to conceal our identity and allow ourselves to blend better. When moving to another country, we might consider changing our unusual or difficult to pronounce name to adapt better. It might even be a way of regaining control or re-establishing mastery over anxiety. Indicating a new expression of self is a reason probably most prominent in the celebrity area. And here is a staggering fact - up to one fifth of offender patients change their names. "What's in a name? Reasons for changing names among English high security hospital patients" - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247501300_What's_in_a_name_Reasons_for_changing_names_among_English_high_security_hospital_patients is a fascinating qualitative study that investigates reasons for name change among serious offender patients. The authors have approached all patients resident in an English high-security Broadmoor hospital with documented name changes for an interview. One person conducted all semi-structured interviews. The audio transcripts were analysed using QSR.NUD*IST Version4. The authors recognised two main groups. Three significant change themes emerged within the group of patients that changed names once or twice: "making or breaking family ties, wanting a fresh start, and difficulties with the name itself." The second group that changed their names on multiple occasions were more idiosyncratic in their reasons for name changing and choice of name. Their satisfaction with the changes was low. The authors "conclude that understanding the reasons for name change among people with mental disorders is important for their continuing treatment, as it may indicate internal mental change."
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 12, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Each International Women’s Day, we celebrate women’s cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements. At least one day a year, the focus is on the women’s rights movement, raising issues like gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. Even though there is undeniable progress in some areas, the numbers are still demoralising. Especially when it comes to violence against women. Psycho-criminological research provides evidence that violence can happen across cultures, sexes, and societies. Yet, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is far from rare in contemporary society, and it usually involves women as victims. “Intimate Partner Violence and its Escalation Into Femicide. Frailty thy Name Is “Violence Against Women”” - https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01777/full is an insightful study that aims to analyse the violence against women and its escalation up to the point in which it aggravates into femicide. The focus is on 275 women killed in Turin, between 1970 and 2016, by a male whom they were involved with in a more or less intimate relationship. This research aimed to answer two questions: “Is murder the worst possible scenario of a long-lasting abusive relationship? Are we witnessing a shift in how violence now happens, becoming perhaps less striking than murder, but not less painful from the victim’s point of view?” These findings show that escalation into femicide was more likely when the victim and perpetrator were in an intimate and affective relationship. When the perpetrator knew the victim, an excessive killing or overkilling was more likely to happen. This study’s results also suggest that motives behind intimate partner femicide could account for a differential degree of violence. In cases where the victim and perpetrator had a longer and closer relationship, the risk of IPV escalating into femicide and the femicide being executed with extreme and severe force was higher.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 08, 2022
In General Discussion
Have you noticed that we’re often more prone to helping people when there is no one around? It’s quite counterintuitive, but the more people are gathered, the less inclined we are to spring into action and help. The term bystander effect refers to the reduction in helping behaviour in the presence of other people. Predominantly it has been explained by situational influences on decision making. “From Empathy to Apathy: The Bystander Effect Revisited” - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326758110_From_Empathy_to_Apathy_The_Bystander_Effect_Revisited diverges from this view. Highlighting recent evidence on the neural mechanisms and dispositional factors that determine apathy in bystanders, they put forward a new theoretical perspective that integrates emotional, motivational, and dispositional aspects. They conclude that our personal distress is enhanced when other bystanders are present, so fixed action patterns of avoidance and freezing tend to dominate. This article offers a fresh perspective that bystander apathy results from a reflexive emotional reaction dependent on the bystander’s personality.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 05, 2022
In General Discussion
The pandemic impacted our lives immensely. It changed the way we work, commute, shop, socialise, and the list goes on and on. But until now, I haven’t considered that it possibly changed some of our personal values as well. “Changes in Personal Values in Pandemic Times” - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/19485506211024026 is an insightful longitudinal study that investigates this value shift. This study conducted on 2,321 Australian adults who completed the pandemic onset wave shows that even values (which are usually quite stable) can change when we adjust to a new life situation. It’s quite interesting that worried individuals exhibited an increase in conservation and a decrease in openness to change values. It will be fascinating to see if this shift in value will persist over time or we will return to our original levels once the pandemic ends and our lives go back to normal. Given that Australia experienced a relatively mild pandemic outbreak compared to the rest of the world, chances are this study’s results are an underestimation of value changes worldwide.
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 04, 2022
In General Discussion
We don’t have to be physically close to a disaster to be impacted by it psychologically. Anxiety and even post-traumatic stress symptoms can result from secondary exposure to disturbing content. And nowadays, our social media feeds are full of it. So is social media causing us even more harm? Can we navigate the good and the bad? Taking breaks seems like a great idea, especially with so many anxiety-provoking events happening. Yet, social media feeds curated right can also be a source of hope and belonging. Sharing awareness, witnessing good deeds, or even playing our part by sharing a meme that will put a smile on someone’s face, may help us create hope. How do you feel scrolling your feeds lately? Is social media causing you more anxiety or giving you hope?
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Vera Eftimovska
Mar 02, 2022
In General Discussion
Bullying, for a while now, has been one of the top social and health issues for children and adolescents worldwide. Bullying, unfortunately, becomes more prominent as a social and legal tort. Given that it occurs in schools and other educational institutions it's associated with the further development of a person’s personality. Living in the modern internet and high-tech era, bullying transitions from a physical place to cyberspace. An insightful article on the subject "Cyberbullying: Its Social and Psychological Harms Among Schoolersy" - https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1089&context=ijcic defines cyberbullying as "any intentional harm delivered through electronic media, including emails, instant messaging or chat, texts, online gaming, and posts from social media, which may inflict psychological, social, educational and/or physical harm to the targeted youth." Even though cyberbullying doesn't physically harm the youth, victims can inflict self-harm as a response to their victimization. Some would even argue that the psychological harm done by cyberbullying can be worse. What is the best way to prevent or at least decrease cyberbullying?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 28, 2022
In Mental Disorders
There are countless films that depict inaccurate and exaggerated behaviours of mentally ill people. The media can be a very powerful tool for spreading the message of mental health, but can it do more harm than good? Can lay people distinguish truth from entertainment? "The Myth of Mental Illness in the Movies and Its Impact on Forensic Psychology" https://augusta.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/the-myth-of-mental-illness-in-the-movies-and-its-impact-on-forens attempts to expose and discuss various false depictions of mental illness. It also aims to explain how this can have devastating consequences for forensic psychologists. Another interesting article, "Psychopathy and the Cinema: Fact or Fiction?" - https://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/artvit/leistedt2013.pdf investigated the relationship between cinema and psychopathy. The authors assessed the degree to which the portrayal of fictional psychopaths in films was realistic from the clinical and psychopathological viewpoint of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and mental health professionals. What do you think, are films getting more realistic at portraying mental illness? Is there a film you'd recommend that accurately depicts mental illness or psychopathy?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 26, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
The self-regulation construct is especially significant to the forensic psychiatric practice, considering its associations with clinical and criminal outcomes and recidivism. "Emotional, cognitive and behavioural self-regulation in forensic psychiatric patients: changes over time and associations with childhood trauma, identity and personality pathology" https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1068316X.2022.2044813 is a recent study that dug deeper into this. The authors investigated changes in emotional, behavioural and cognitive self-regulation. They also examined "the associations between these three elements of self-regulation and childhood trauma, identity dysfunction and personality pathology." The findings (that should be taken with caution due to the sample size restrictions - N = 94) suggest short-term changes are unlikely and indicate the relative importance of emotional and behavioural regulation for clinical practice.
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 24, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Reproducibility is a contemporary discussion affecting many fields. Forensic science has experienced severe scrutiny from both the media and large oversight bodies. I came across a fairly recent paper - “Beyond CSI: Calibrating public beliefs about the reliability of forensic science through openness and transparency” - https://osf.io/preprints/metaarxiv/tvcm6/ that makes three substantial contributions to this discussion. It brings together and compares several studies in which laypeople debate the reliability of forensic science practices. It concludes that forensic practices do not enjoy high-reliability ratings from the public. Secondly, it reviews three empirically-tested ways other scientific fields attempt to restore and maintain their credibility. The authors also recommend “how forensic science can leverage transparency and openness to improve and maintain its long-term credibility.” Do you also think that openness and transparency can lead to more efficient practice and research?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 22, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Nature vs nurture is an ages-long debate. The well-known genetic studies of twins and families are now said to be both impossible and unproductive. Yet, this model still persists as a way of framing discussion on the causes of behaviour in genetic research papers, the media and lay discussions. While social and environmental crime theories were dominant in criminology and public policy, biological theories have been seen as outdated and discredited. Nevertheless, research into genetic variations associated with aggressive and antisocial behaviour has received more attention in the media. “Perceptions of nature, nurture and behaviour” - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262536183_Perceptions_of_nature_nurture_and_behaviour explores ideas on the role of nature and nurture in violent and antisocial behaviour through interviews and open-ended questionnaires among the lay public. It resulted in “general agreement that everybody’s behaviour is influenced to varying degrees by both genetic and environmental factors but deterministic accounts of causation, except in exceptional circumstances, were rejected. Only an emphasis on nature was seen as dangerous in its consequences, for society and for individuals themselves.” I found this paper provided a fresh perspective distinct from the usual academic researchers who approach the nature-nurture debate from their subject area expertise and stances. Where do you stand on the nature vs nurture debate?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 20, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
Nature vs nurture is a well-known debate. But where does history fit in? “Rethinking Criminal Propensity and Character: Cohort Inequalities and the Power of Social Change” - https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/716005 is a comprehensive 60+ page article that reveals just how important history is. In this essay, Robert J. Sampson and L. Ash Smith “argue that it is time for a comprehensive inquiry into the changing meanings, validity, sources, and implications of the twinned concepts of criminal propensity and character—along with implications for prediction—in contemporary criminal justice policies and theories of crime.” They “do so by focusing on the last several decades of crime and justice in America that have seen the rise of mass incarceration and proactive policing, dramatic declines in violence, and now criminal justice reform. The social transformations of crime and punishment in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries make this an especially propitious moment to take stock and recast our understanding of characterological approaches to crime and criminalization.” The evidence they “review reveals that entire cohorts of children have come of age in such radically different historical contexts that traditional markers of criminal character, such as arrest, are as much a function of social change as of an individual’s early life propensities and background characteristics, including classic risk factors emphasized in criminology (e.g., poverty, parental criminality). This body of work indicates that crime over the life course is fundamentally shaped by historical and social conditions and must be theorized as such, and that cohort comparisons are a key strategy for doing so.” They “conclude that developmental and life-course criminology should elevate the study of social context and change and, ultimately, societal character.” As you’ll see, this essay doesn’t reject individual characteristics or individual pathways of crime but emphasizes that they must be analyzed in interactions with historical change. Do you think that history should have a more prominent spot in forensic psychology? Is when we are as important as who we are?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 18, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
I was left in awe by Des https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11656892/, the British miniseries based on the crimes of Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen. He was arrested after discovering human remains that were causing a blockage of a drain near his home. Attention-grabbing story portrayed by brilliant actors. Naturally, I wanted to read a bit more about the true story, and came across this article "Loneliness and Associated Violent Antisocial Behavior: Analysis of the Case Reports of Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen" - DOI:10.1177/0306624X05274898 I felt it offers a fresh perspective on things. It theorises that loneliness plays a significant role in developing and continuing violent, antisocial attitudes and behaviour. By analysing the case reports of two serial killers, Dennis Nilsen and Jeffrey Dahmer it searches for evidence for this link. It's quite unsettling that most of these people claimed that real friends and bonds probably would have prevented their deviant, violent development. Can this potential link between loneliness and severe antisocial behaviour be used to prevent some gruesome crimes?
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Vera Eftimovska
Feb 16, 2022
In Forensic Psychology
The clock drawing test (CDT) is a quick and simple neuropsychological test that assesses the cognitive state and different mechanisms involved in task performance. The CDT has raised interest due to its rapid administration, ease of application and correction, and since it can be completed irrespective of language and education level. I find this article on the application of the CDT forensic assessment - https://www.elsevier.es/en-revista-spanish-journal-legal-medicine-446-articulo-clock-drawing-test-in-forensic-S2445424918300396?fbclid=IwAR2RJDb8dq8-vEX_K1Rzb6L0PnK-_Jv0DeV3Cz0dakFm8tZG4Y4tTO5EsJ0 The main objective of this study was to determine the CDT usefulness as a screening test of cognitive impairment in the forensic field. The results show that it is indeed useful for evaluating cognitive impairment in forensic samples. "The legally incapacitated patients presented worse results in the CDT than those who had a judgement with no change to their legal capacity." I'd love to hear your thoughts and experience with this test in forensic assessment.
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