Is insanity ever a defence? - Page 3

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Is insanity ever a defence?

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    07-22-2012, 12:27 AM
We were taught that there is no cure for mental illness, only treating the symptoms. Unfortunately a lot of insurances won't cover the meds that do work well or people don't have insurance at all and just can't afford their meds.
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    07-22-2012, 12:30 AM
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
GH, I think it depends on circumstances. But again it depends on what you mean by "revenge". Putting the guy who killed/injured so many in Colorado to death would not be a revenge, I think that would be a correction still, otherwise he can sit and take medications in a mental facility for, say, 5 years, get released, and kill someone else.

BTW, I'm not positive everyone with mental issue(s) (even if it's just one episode) is treatable to complete health.
I certainly don't believe it's always treatable - and mostly it's more a case of managing it through regular medication. But I sincerely doubt if this man is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he will not be allowed out of a facility for the rest of his life - he certainly wouldn't be in Australia. Temporary insanity is a different matter but I can't see anyone successfully arguing that he temporarily took leave of his senses.
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    07-22-2012, 12:33 AM
Well, with the case of the CO shooter, since sanity is difficult to measure, and he reportedly had no previous mental health issues, why bother trying to measure that which cannot be measured, now?
    07-22-2012, 12:35 AM
Originally Posted by possumhollow    
We were taught that there is no cure for mental illness, only treating the symptoms. Unfortunately a lot of insurances won't cover the meds that do work well or people don't have insurance at all and just can't afford their meds.
Sadly that is the case - even with "harmless" mental illnesses. Not only that, the side effects of some of these drugs can be as bad as the illness.
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    07-22-2012, 12:51 AM
Originally Posted by possumhollow    
We were taught that there is no cure for mental illness, only treating the symptoms. Unfortunately a lot of insurances won't cover the meds that do work well or people don't have insurance at all and just can't afford their meds.
Where did you learn this?
*shakes head*
THIS is why there is such a bad stigma with mental illness... Sigh.
    07-22-2012, 02:15 AM
Originally Posted by JustDressageIt    
Where did you learn this?
*shakes head*
THIS is why there is such a bad stigma with mental illness... Sigh.
Interesting! I too, was under the impression that you can only manage mental illness…not cure it. Which mental illness can be cured?
    07-22-2012, 05:00 AM
Originally Posted by Golden Horse    
But then we come to the whole discussion of justice, and why we have punishment. Do we use it for for revenge or correction, if revenge then an eye for an eye or something else. If it is correction, then those who have one psychotic episode, could be treated, cured and not be any danger again
I think it's more a question of punishment v's rehabilitation.
In a case like the CO shooting, no one is going to be interested in rehabilitating the offender, he will sit and die whether in prison through the death penalty, natural death, or in a mental institution.

The news reports said that his mother made a statement along the lines of 'it's him, you have the right man' and that's before the police had even contacted her.
I don't believe it's temporary insanity, however it is insanity.
    07-22-2012, 06:31 AM
This whole thing is heartbreaking, and alarm bells somewhat went off in my head when I heard that they had actually caught him. I know he is intelligent, but does he know far too much about the legal system to worry about the consequences of his actions? In all honesty, when I first heard about this event I 100% expected to hear that the gunman had turned the gun on himself.

The problem with pleading insanity is nobody can see how the brain was working at the time of the event. I don't feel that he can plead insanity, this was planned to "perfection" (I don't want to use that word but I'm struggling to find another), even to the degree in which is house has been rigged. I just don't feel that somebody who is having mental health issues can go into so much detail for an extended period of time.

Don't get me wrong, I was raised with a parent who had multiple personality disorder, and I know first hand how it affects people. While it took years of counselling, therapy and medication, the MPD eventually did win and my mother is no longer with me. Dealing with mental health is a very tricky situation, some meds work for some while they don't work for others.. alot of it is trial and error but I don't feel like you will ever cure it.

As for the topic of post natal depression, I suffered something awful after my first child. It was quite possibly the toughest time of my life. I was surrounded by people but felt entirely alone. I was living with inlaws at the time and there were times the baby would do nothing but scream (as they do) and nobody would say anything and leave me to deal with it. Another time I remember driving and she was crying in the back of the car, as I came to a bend in the road I clearly remember thinking I didnt really need to slow down. Thankfully I did, and took myself into the doctor the very next day to get myself sorted. I can't judge these mothers who do such horrific things... because I too was in that dark place. I just knew when it was time to do something about it, but possibly I was more aware, and not ashamed to admit, due to my upbringing?

I am following this story with great interest, as I am the case of Anders Breivik. A large part of me just wants to ask them - WHY? I know the apparent reasoning behind Breivik's rampage, but just why do these people feel they have the right to destroy and take lives?
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    07-22-2012, 09:19 AM
Insanity, temporary or otherwise, is always a last gasp defense. Why? Because in 99.99% of cases, it doesn't work.

Regardless of whether or not this shooter has any form of mental illness, the case will be made that everything was premeditated. That takes intelligence, and the ability to think ahead. Him having a mental illness will not hold any sway with a judge and jury, because to plead insanity and have it be successful, you have to convince them that everything that happened was completely unplanned.

I have great sympathy for women with PPD, but if they kill their child, they shouldn't get off scott free. They took another life, and some restitution has to be made.
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    07-22-2012, 11:54 AM
Legal and medical insanity are not the same thing. One can have a medical diagnosis of some sort of mental illness, but be legally sane.

The modern insanity defense is based on the M'Naughton rules, which were formulated by Parliament in 1843 after Daniel M'Naughton was acquitted of the murder of Edward Drummond (he thought he was shooting at Robert Peel, the prime minister). It also is based on the fact that insanity was reconsituted medical condition in the early to mid-1800s. You had medical experts testifying about criminal responsibility, which was something new. What wasn't new was the need of judge and/or jury to determine the defendant's intent. The law was (and is) concerned with whether the accused disturbance precluded the capacity to form intent: the "will to do harm." This has to do with having a justice system philosophically designed to punish wrongful will; only intentional behaviour can therefore be punished. Thus a perpetrator who cannot determine the wrongfulness of an act is not fit for punishment. Prior to the nineteenth century, this was characterised in criminal trials by such terms as "derangement," "delirium," a "disordered intellect." In its essence, the stark, raving madman who "didn't know what he was about."

M'Naughton appeared otherwise sane, but claimed that he suffered from monomania on the subject of Robert Peel's government being out to get him. Mental science in the mid-nineteenth century claimed that monomania was a species of mental disease where the individual suffers a pathological preoccupation on one subject only, but appears otherwise of sound mind. This was also represented by the term "moral insanity," a notion developed by a psychiatrist called James Cowles Prichard and was an answer to the motiveless crime. His theory was that the will itself could be diseased: "some ruling passion seems to have entire possession of the mind." The appearance of monomania is also interesting, representing another shift in the way madness was conceptualised. A form of insanity could be recognised by its irrationality, the fact that the act committed had no discernable purpose and the defendant might not appear insane, except, of course, to a trained expert. This time period also correlates to the professionalisation of psychiatry and the rise of forensic psychiatry. Foucault has suggested (not uncontroversially) that the courtroom is really where psychiatrists argued for the importance of psychiatry. They could detect medical conditions that were dangerous to society, but unnoticeable by the lay person, such as monomania and moral insanity. I digress...

In any case, after M'Naughton was acquitted, Parliament tried to limit the scope of the insanity defense. The new criteria for judging insanity was: "at the time of commiting the act the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or as not to know that what he was doing was wrong." US jurisprudence used the M'Naughton rules up until the 1950s. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the insanity defense went through a few different criterion, which expanded its scope to include concepts like the "irrisistable impulse." The the American Legal Institute became the standard, which said, quite broadly: "if at the time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law." However, after John Hinckley was acquitted of his attempted assassination of Reagan, Congress passed the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which limited the application of the insanity defense and essentially brought it back to the stricter M'Naughton rules.

(My PhD is on the history of psychiatry and it started life as looking specifically at criminal responsibility and insanity, although it became more expansive than just that)

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