Essay On Insanity Defense

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As a type of defenses of excuse that completely exonerates a defendant from conviction, insanity defense argues that defendant is not responsible for their actions due to the presence of psychiatric disorders that influence the normal functions of judgment and cognition. However, the prerequisite of the insanity defense, the insanity is hard to prove in criminal cases because the definition of psychiatric disorders is tricky, elusive and vague. To prevent its abuse, the successful exoneration based on the insanity defense is rare. In this paper, I would discuss what makes the insanity defense tricky and the debate between the legal definition and psychological definition of insanity, and I would also discuss the evaluation methods for the…show more content…
Though well-established, the two tests are always challenged. One of the reasons is due to the discrepancy between the legal insanity and medical insanity: legal insanity and medical insanity only partially overlap, but a legal insanity is not necessarily a medical insanity, vice verses. For example, we might use the discrepancy to criticize the mandatory hospitalization for the insane murderer. After being diagnosed as insane, the murderer would not be responsible for his act, but instead, he would be sent to the hospital for psychological treatment. Nevertheless, suppose the murderer only possesses the disorder that only exists in legal term, what treatments can doctor adopt to cure him if there is even no such disease exists? Another reason is that the vague distinction between internal cause and external cause; “Many diseases consist of a predisposition, considered an internal cause, combined with a precipitant, which would be considered an external cause.” The act triggered by the predisposition would be considered as an act driven by automatism, which is not classified as insanity since the defendant still has the volition and cognition to control his act when he awakens. The act triggered by precipitant, such as the persistent psychosis caused by drugs, rather, would be considered insanity. However, in the medical sense, the predisposition and precipitant are combined and will not be discussed separately. The disharmony between medical and legal insanity makes the definition of insanity
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