September 2014 Bar Bulletin
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September 2014 Bar Bulletin

Gray Matter: Books on the Human Brain

By Kris Henderson
Reference Librarian


If your practice would benefit from a better understanding of how the human brain works, of psychiatry, or of psychology in general or forensic psychology in particular, the Public Law Library of King County has books for you. A selection of titles follows, but does not include titles that might otherwise belong here that were addressed in this columnist's March 2013 Bar Bulletin column on resources about mental health, disability and capacity.

Jennifer K. Robbennolt & Jean R. Sternlight, Psychology for Lawyers: Understanding the Human Factors (ABA 2012): This book interweaves discussion of psychological concepts and the ways they can help or harm a lawyer in particular tasks - such as persuading, negotiating and writing - and in overall effectiveness - such as maintaining credibility and integrity. Each chapter has a short summary of points. You could learn something useful just by reading the summaries.

David S. Sousa, How Brain Science Can Make You a Better Lawyer (ABA 2009): The author, an educational consultant, focuses on the educational roles of lawyers. He explains how discoveries in neuroscience and cognitive science can help lawyers both in their general professional functioning and in understanding how to better present to different audiences.

John S. Carbone, MD, A Lawyer's Guide to Understanding Psychiatry (ABA 2012): This readable book is written by a psychiatrist accustomed to working with lawyers. The author's purpose is to provide lawyers a broad understanding of some of the concepts, terms and practices used in psychiatry. In addition to a brief history of the development of psychiatry and of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), there are chapters on clinical diagnosis, psychoses and neuroses, personality disorders, and predicting future dangerousness. The work is generously footnoted and has a bibliography of both clinical and legal material.

Kenneth S. Pope, James N. Butcher & Joyce Seelen, The MMPI, MMPI-2, and MMPI-A in Court: A Practical Guide for Expert Witnesses and Attorneys (American Psychological Ass'n, 3d ed. 2006): This book is intended to help expert witnesses and attorneys to practice effectively when the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), its successor, the MMPI-2, or the MMPI-A for adolescents is at issue. The book includes sample questions on direct or cross-examination that key in on possible objections to the MMPI and its successors, and addresses the use of the assessment in different forensic settings - for example, personal injury, family custody and criminal cases. In addition, there is a discussion of the MMPI-2 as a tool to assess malingering and other credibility issues. About half of the book is appendices, including bibliographies of cases involving the MMPI-2 and a list of translations of the MMPI-2 into other languages.

We also have works addressing psychological issues in particular practice areas. If you have a family law practice, you might be interested in Philip M. Stahl, Ph.D. & Robert A. Simon, Ph.D., Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony (ABA 2013). If you have an employment law practice, we have Psychological Issues in Employment Law 2014 (PLI 2014), part of the PLI Course Handbook Series.

Finally, please be aware that we have copies of the new DSM-5, as well as the DSM-IV-R, at both our Seattle and Kent locations.

If you have questions about this article or other resources on this topic, please visit us, call us at 477-1305 or email us at

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