The Legal System and Behavioral Health

  • Robert M. AurbachEmail author


This exploration of the interaction between the legal system and behavioral health starts with a narrative description of the legal causes of action that are likely to involve behavioral health concerns, either as an issue in dispute or as a factor in the dispute resolution process. The discussion then turns to what does and does not work in the legal system in its interaction with behavioral health concerns. In particular, there is an examination of the various roles played by attorneys in the legal system and the often-unintended consequences of attorney involvement in behavioral health cases. The dynamics created by common mechanisms for attorney compensation, the stressful process of dispute resolution, and the system’s emphasis on monetary awards as a compensation for harm are examined. The chapter goes on to discuss the process of determination of current behavioral functioning in the legal system and the legal standards applicable to such determinations. These dynamics are complicated by issues of coordination of care, medicalization of conditions, perceptions concerning symptom magnification and malingering, attorney behavior during and after the case, and the impact of case outcome on behavioral health. The chapter closes with some suggestions for avoiding unintended consequences that contribute to unnecessary disability.

Behavioral health concerns arise in diverse legal contexts and under a variety of legal theories and specific laws. The effects of the legal system on persons experiencing the symptoms of behavioral health concerns vary according to the context in which they interact with the system, to the specific law governing the cause of action giving rise to their legal claim, and to their treatment by the lawyers on both sides of the dispute. Yet there are significant and recurring issues arising in the interaction between those experiencing behavioral health concerns and the legal system in which they sometimes find themselves. This chapter will focus on those issues and some possible systemic solutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uncommon Approach, IncMelbourneAustralia

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