(5 credits)






Module Convenors


Professor Stefano Ferracuti: []



Course Objectives


The course has the objective of developing the
particular conceptual framework applicable to most of the problems in the
field. As legal medicine  has a
extraordinary wide range of factors that must be considered in the approach to
the field in order to rational and systematic analysis of the variables
involved in the evaluations. The course will be mainly focused on criminal
forensic psychopathology, including competence to stand trial and to give
informed consent, testimonial capacity, insanity defence, diminished capacity,
sentencing considerations, social dangerousness, release of persons acquitted
for insanity, and civil forensic psychopathology, including legal legislation
of psychiatry, including  involuntary
commitment, right to treatment and to refuse treatment, professional liability,
ethical guidelines, selective incapacitation.


Knowledge and understanding

Critical knowledge of the core subjects related to
the course, in both psychopathology and law, in a systematic perspective.
Knowledge and understanding of the main problems, forms of decision making, and
critical evaluation of the available data.


Applying knowledge and understanding

Ability to apply knowledge acquired during the
course in order to analyse and discuss standard cases in a consistent way,
considering the cross-examination possibility of evaluation of each case.


Making judgements

Improvement of the ability to understand and
critically assess the core subjects related to the course in both a clinical
and forensic perspective; ability to logically connect the different issues
examined in the course.


Communication skills

Improvement of the ability to describe and discuss,
in a clear and appropriate legal language, clinical cases.


Learning skills

Improvement of the ability to study in an
independent and critical way.


Course Structure


There will be 9 lectures taking place, each lasting 5
hours. At the end of each lesson a Q&A time is scheduled. An overview of
the content of these is outlined below, and these will aim to provide an
introduction to the subject matter. In addition to these, if requested, tutorials
may be organized on specific arguments.




Course Assessment**


The proposed research topics offer an opportunity
for further in-depth analysis of the subjects examined during the lecture. Students
will undergo one evaluation test and the end of the course (14th and
25th lectures). T
he two tests, which will take place in
telematic mode, may consist in the resolution of some multiple-choice questions,
as well as the writing of a short essay on the topics covered in previous
lessons, as well as a case study on forensic evaluation.


Reading List


Standard textbooks for this module include:


of Forensic Medicine Edited by Burkhard Madea Institute of Forensic Medicine
University of Bonn Bonn, Germany Wiley


readingsfor this module include:

Routledge Handbook of Mental Health law, Ed BD Kelly and M Donnely, 2023





Overview of topics

Indipendent work


February 22

Introduction to legal medicine and forensic psychopathology

Epistemological limits of the field. Definition of the area of
interest. Type of knowledge needs for the field

Causal relationship (generality, causal sequence, causal criteriology).
Complaints (health and
judicial complaints)

Standard textbook

Stefano Ferracuti

March 21


Substance abuse and toxicology

Behavioral problems due to substance abuse and their management. New
psychoactive substances, alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and anphetamines. Medico
legal aspects of penal responsibility

The Psychonauts' World of Cognitive Enhancers.

Napoletano F, Schifano F, Corkery JM, Guirguis A,
Arillotta D, Zangani C, Vento A.Front Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 11;11:546796. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.546796. eCollection

The clinical challenges of synthetic cathinones.

Schifano F, Napoletano F, Arillotta D, Zangani C,
Gilgar L, Guirguis A, Corkery JM, Vento A.Br J Clin Pharmacol.
2020 Mar;86(3):410-419. doi: 10.1111/bcp.14132.


Prof. Stefano Ferracuti

 Prof. Alessandro

April 4

Medico legal aspects of death

Biothical and legal aspects of the final phase of life

The crime scene. Biological and legal concepts of death. Verification
of death. Thanatology. Cadaveric phenomena (immediate cadaveric phenomena,
consecutive cadaveric phenomena, general and special transformative cadaveric
phenomena). Mortuary police regulations.

Legal and bioethical aspects of the final phase of life
(proportionality of care, advance treatment orders, shared care planning,
euthanasia, assisted suicide, incitement or aid to suicide, murder of
consenting person).

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in Mental Disorders: Ethical Positions
in the Debate between Proportionality, Dignity, and the Right to Die.

Scopetti M, Morena D, Padovano M, Manetti F, Di
Fazio N, Delogu G, Ferracuti S, Frati P, Fineschi V.Healthcare (Basel). 2023 May 18;11(10):1470. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11101470.

Assisted suicide in the care of mentally ill patients: the Lucio
Magri's case.

Frati P, Gulino M, Mancarella P, Cecchi R, Ferracuti S.J Forensic Leg
Med. 2014 Jan;21:26-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2013.10.017


Prof. Matteo Scopetti


Dr. Martina Padovano

April 11


Ethical aspects and clinical evaluation of informed consent

How to evaluate competence in different clinical fields

Methodology and instruments

Parmigiani G, Del Casale A, Mandarelli G, Barchielli B, Kotzalidis GD,
D'Antonio F, Di Vita A, de Lena C, Ferracuti S. Decisional capacity to
consent to treatment and research in patients affected by Mild Cognitive
Impairment. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Psychogeriatr. 2022
Jun;34(6):529-542. doi: 10.1017/S1041610220004056.

Appelbaum PS. Clinical practice. Assessment of patients' competence to
consent to treatment. N Engl J Med. 2007 Nov 1;357(18):1834-40. doi:

Prof. Giovanna Parmigiani

Prof. Stefano Ferracuti

April 18

Social Dangerousness and Management of persons with mental illness and
criminal behavior

How do we manage the broad spectrum of persons who perform a crime and
are mentally ill

Fazel S, Burghart M, Fanshawe T, Gil SD, Monahan J, Yu R. The
predictive performance of criminal risk assessment tools used at sentencing:
Systematic review of validation studies. J Crim Justice. 2022
Jul-Aug;81:101902. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2022.101902.

Ferracuti S, Pucci D, Trobia F, Alessi MC, Rapinesi C, Kotzalidis GD,
Del Casale A. Evolution of forensic psychiatry in Italy over the past
40 years (1978-2018). Int J Law Psychiatry. 2019 Jan-Feb;62:45-49. doi:

Stefano Ferracuti

May 2

Forensic Pathology

Forensic pathology (injury from blunt force, major trauma, violent
mechanical asphyxia, injury from firearm, injury from bladed weapon, injury
from electrical energy, injury from thermal energy, pathology related to
toxics and substances of abuse). Sudden death.

Crimes against life (murder, infanticide in conditions of material and
moral abandonment).
Crime of battery. Crime of
personal injury.

Standard textbook

Prof. Matteo Scopetti

Dr. Martina Padovano

May 9

The Insanity Defence

Evaluation of the mental status of the person in relation to a crime
depending on the legislation

Borum R, Fulero SM. Empirical research on the insanity defense and
attempted reforms: evidence toward informed policy. Law Hum Behav. 1999
Feb;23(1):117-35. doi: 10.1023/a:1022330908350. Corrected and republished in:
Law Hum Behav. 1999 Jun;23(3):375-93.

Mendez MF. The neurobiology of moral behavior: review and
neuropsychiatric implications. CNS Spectr. 2009 Nov;14(11):608-20. doi:

Prof. Giovanna Parmigiani

 Prof. Stefano

May 15

Social Assistance, Insurance and Civil and penal liability

Civil and criminal liability of the healthcare professional. Social
insurance (general information, insurance against occupational risks,
accident at work, occupational disease).
Social assistance (protection of disabled people, benefits,

Medication Errors in Pediatrics: Proposals to Improve the Quality and Safety
of Care Through Clinical Risk Management.

D'Errico S, Zanon M, Radaelli D, Padovano M,
Santurro A, Scopetti M, Frati P, Fineschi V.Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Jan
14;8:814100. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.814100


Prof. Matteo Scopetti


May 23

Course evaluation