Explain the background, current presentation, and behavior of the person in the vignette

Explain the background, current presentation, and behavior of the person in the vignette.

Psychological Comprehensive Examination

MA Forensic Psychology

Proposed Case Vignette for Comprehensive Examination

Please read the vignette carefully. Based on information provided in the vignette, please compose a well-written and organized response to each of the questions that follow:


Presentation of the Problem

Max is a 17 year old, Caucasian male from a lower middle class rural area. He was arrested for attempted murder of two police officers. Max’s attorney has requested an evaluation of Max’s mental state at the time of the offense. Due to the seriousness of Max’s offense he has been transferred to adult court. Max has no prior arrest history or legal involvement in the juvenile or adult legal system. In addition, Max has no previous medical or mental health history; nor a history of substance abuse or addiction.  Max’s mother described him as being a “smart, outgoing and friendly young boy in elementary school and mid-school.” However, during high school Max became withdrawn and detached per his parent’s observations. He stopped socializing with others and by his junior year he was failing all of his classes.

Per Max’s parents eight months prior to the crime Max began to exhibit bizarre behavior in the home. For example, Max was observed watching television and chanting “circa mal te, cira mal te, cira mal te…”  Max’s mother stated when she asked Max what was he chanting Max stated “I have to talk in code so they want understand me, you know they can hear us you know and then pointed at the television. We can’t let them know my plan to fight them.” Max’s father stated a few days before the crime he observed Max having a running commentary with himself and when he asked Max who was he talking to Max yelled out “ …their coming, their coming…” Due to Max’s parent becoming increasing concerned about Max’s bizarre behavior they scheduled an appointment at an outpatient clinic for a psychiatric evaluation.

During the evaluation, Max communicated marked delusional beliefs about policemen who were “non-human.” Max stated he had seen the “non-human, alien policemen,” but would not elaborate further. Max reported the “alien policemen” were placed on earth to facilitate the “takeover of the world and seize all humans.” He elaborated that this world “takeover” would involve the murder of “all government leaders” and “millions of innocents.” When asked, Max said he did not have any thoughts of hurting himself or others nor did he exhibit an inability to take care of himself. Max was released to his parent’s care with a prescription of an atypical antipsychotic with a follow-up appointment scheduled in five days. Per Max’s parents Max was non-compliant in taking his prescribed medication. Two days later, Max walked into his local police station and began firing his father’s .357 magnum and chanting “circa mal te, cira mal te, cira mal te…” Two policemen were seriously injured.

Based on the vignette provided, please compose a well-written and organized response to each of the following questions.  When writing your responses, please:


  • Use APA (6th edition) Style, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced, 12 font, with a reference list at the end.
  • Write clearly and concisely.
  • Cite appropriate, and especially current, literature (empirical and/or theoretical).
  • Avoid all sexist idioms and allusions.
  • Remember to demonstrate your multicultural competence where appropriate.


Psychological Theory and Practice


  1. What psychological assessments (tests) would you conduct to enhance your understanding of the problems of the person in the vignette and how would your choice of assessment(s) inform your diagnostic formation and treatment planning? Assessments may include structured or unstructured interviews, valid and reliable assessment measures, and/or formalized assessment procedures that may be conducted by yourself or by someone else referred by you.


  1. Provide your diagnostic impressions (based on the DSM-5) for this individual (psychological disorder diagnosis). In narrative form, please describe how the individual meets the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s) chosen in addition to the differential diagnostic thought process (other diagnosis close to the actual diagnosis but ruled out) that you used to reach your hypotheses. Be sure to include any additional (missing) information that is needed to either rule out or confirm your differential diagnoses impressions.


Legal Theory and Application

  1.  Explain the background, current presentation, and behavior of the person in the vignette utilizing biological, learning, and social theories on offenders to support your position. Do not simply restate the background information from the vignette. Instead, provide a theoretically-based discussion to understand the criminal behaviors of the person in the vignette.


  1. Consider the type of crime in the vignette and discuss how that type of crime generally impacts a victim of it.  Do not limit yourself to discussing just the victim in this vignette.  Instead obtain scholarly sources for information on how this type of crime can affect any victim, their family members, and other members of society.


  1. Describe the psycholegal standards and/or definitions for each of the following: 1- competence to stand trial, 2- duty to warn, 3- insanity. Then, identify and describe one or more landmark case(s) for each standard (at least three cases total). Describe the elements or issues that a mental health professional usually focuses on when assessing a person’s adjudicative competence, risk and insanity, and any additional items that might be especially important to focus on in the provided vignette.


Assessment, Research and Evaluation

  1. Describe tests or assessment procedures you would employ to address the psycholegal issues of (competence to stand trial, risk of dangerousness, and insanity). You may refer to these from the Psychological Theory and Assessment Section “A” if you already covered them there.  Discuss what the anticipated conclusions would be based upon information provided in the vignette.


  1. Develop a research question and a testable research hypothesis regarding offenders or the type of crime that is discussed in the vignette (such as, addiction, recidivism, criminal behavior, etc.).  Explain the variables in your question and the type of research study that could answer your question as well as why that research would make a contribution to the field of forensic psychology.


Leadership, Consultation, and Ethics

  1. What are the ethical and legal dilemmas this vignette introduced? What would be your immediate steps and why? Please be specific and make sure that you describe your process of ethical decision making and the solutions/consequences to which this process might lead. Your discussion should be informed by the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code as well as the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists.


Interpersonal Effectiveness

  1. What diversity factors, cultural considerations, or other demographic variables pertaining to the person in the vignette would you take into account in rendering diagnoses, choosing assessment measures, forming case conceptualizations, and designing the treatment plan?  Be sure to discuss cultural/diversity factors that could apply even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the vignette.


  1. Your writing, use of citations, ability to form a logical argument, and proper APA Style, including the use of paraphrasing, will be evaluated as a measure of your interpersonal effectiveness. No response is required for “B”.

Explain the background, current presentation, and behavior of the person in the vignette