Folie à deux and the courts

William J. Newman, Melissa A. Harbit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Folie à deux is a condition that presents distinct challenges in the legal system. The authors searched the LexisNexis database for cases involving folie à deux and provide a review of criminal and civil case law involving individuals with the diagnosis. The case surrounding Elizabeth Smart's abduction from her Utah home is highlighted. Folie à deux is a formally recognized mental disorder, although it is intrinsically different from most other primary psychiatric conditions. It can cause considerable confusion among mental health experts and legal professionals alike. It is difficult to make a reliable diagnosis of a condition that is, to date, not well validated. The authors discuss possible directions for future research and suggest methods for examining evaluees with suspected folie à deux.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


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