Psychopathy And Sociopathy Inclusion In The Insanity Defense

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The insanity defense is available to those with serious mental illnesses as a legal excuse for criminal responsibility (Felthous, 2010). The insanity defense continues to be debated and has both legal and mental health professionals questioning whether psychopathic disorders should qualify under the defense or not. The history of criminal responsibility dates back to 1838 when Isaac Ray published his famous book in which he argued that those who committed criminal offences should not be found guilty due to their “moral mania” (Felthous, 2010). The most famous and influential case however was of Daniel M’Naghten who, in 1843, fatally shot the prime minister of England’s secretary while suffering from a paranoid delusion. This case led to the widely adopted McNaughton Rules (Felthous, 2010). …show more content…

As it was being debated whether psychopathic diseases would be included in the model insanity standard, the American Law Institute attempted to exclude psychopathic and sociopathic conditions from consideration (Felthous, 2010). Then in 1961, it was declared by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that sociopathy would be sufficient in order to raise the issue of insanity. However, this issue of psychopathy and sociopathy inclusion in the insanity defense, and the insanity defense in its entirety remains a controversial issue. Since the 1970s, it seems there is a greater interest in restricting and abolishing insanity tests as well as excluding psychopathy from the defense, and that view is still present (Felthous, 2010). According to Felthous (2010), this tension has been long

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