Journal of Poetry Therapy

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 117–122 | Cite as

The Use of Poetry in a Psychological Autopsy into the Death of a Political Prisoner

  • Michael A. Simpson


The Psychological Autopsy is a technique used for exploring the likely cause of ambiguous deaths. For an inquest into the death in custody under suspicious circumstances of a South African political prisoner; unique use of poetry written by the victim, including verses found in his possession at the time of death, was used to reconstruct his attitudes and led the author to conclude that suicide was a most unlikely explanation for his death, which was far more likely to be due to murder or neglect.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Simpson
    • 1
  1. 1.National Centre for Psychosocial & Traumatic StressPretoriaSouth Africa

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