- Unnatural Causes


by Richard Shepard

(December, 2019)

UNNATURAL CAUSES, by the English forensic pathologist Richard Shepherd (på svenska översatt till ”Onaturlig död. Liv och död - en rättspatologs memoarer”). This is an affectionate and tender autobiographical book, including many international notable cases that span a lifetime of the entire professional life of the author.

Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, having a justified rest between the traditional ceremonies :-) I had a chat with my close and good friend, Prof PW. After the glühwein, we briefly tried to summarise the international development work in the field, and we discussed the concept "psychological autopsy" - IAC as a preliminary concept in Sweden, which, I think, also sum up, the newly read, Shepherd-book excellently!

Forensic Medicine Science is not just about postmortems, autopsies, pathology and microscopy. FMS is a lot more than expected, being legally credible, in spite of personal shortcomings, in a sometimes impermeable fog of investigation errors, inadequacies, and uncertain documentation from crime scenes; its about understanding context of processes, as access to the medical, psychiatric and legal journals, documents, notes, letters, diaries or anything that can give more information about the case - and in Court, in all this uncertainty giving juridically assessments "without any reasonable doubt" and conclusions by the cause of death.

And within all this complexity, having worthy, dignified summons and meetings together with grieving relatives. And, at the same time, not lose one's mind by yourself, as well - like a cumulative PTSD, gathered over decades of troublesome experiences and acute stress, as such Richard Shepherd describe it in the final chapters of the book.

This is a personal and really surprising book!