March 05, 2017

Thursday group reading in crime and insanity

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/students/modules/hi398/timetable/insanity/

Please could you look at the following:

Blessing - Smith

Mikka - Shephard

Aleemat - Marland

Izzy - Tighe

Louisa - Walker (vol 1 look at section on 19th century)

Olive B - Robinson

James - Skultans

Olive R-J - Kelly

Abi - Jackson

Charlotte - Harris

Amie - Eigen

Yetunde - Prior

Aksana - Andrews

Zoe - Eigen


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  1. Zoe Zbrzezniak

    • Not many appear before 1830, but rise to over half in old baily trials by 1840. Such a dramatic increase in participation suggests that by the time of the McNaughtan trial, forensic psychiatric testimony had indeed ‘arrived’.
    • An analysis of medical testimony offered from the years 1760 to 1843 reveals a fundamental shift in both the content of medical testimony and the occupational background of the forensic-psychiatric witness.
    • Case study 1
    • 3 June 1789, John Glover
    • Accused of stealing a ring, and when searched Glover stripped which casued people to question his mental state
    • Dr Joseph Hart Myers’s acquaintance with the prisoner spanned two years, having attended Glover ‘in the character of a physician’, says he thought the priosoner to be insane every time he saw him
    o “’He had the appearance of a man whose mind was not right.’”
    o ‘’When that delirium went off, he was quite an idiot; it appeared quite a perfect idiotism.’”
    o “COURT: NOW describe a little? DE CASTRO: Just as a madman does. COURT: I really do not know how a madman walks till you tell me; I want to know? DE CASTRO: By his raving and jumping abot”
    • This exchange illustrates the hazards a medical witness faced when he invoked incoherent conversation or bizarre behaviour as signs of madness: his diagnostic inference could easily be challenged because he had no special criteria defining what constituted acceptable speech or conduct. Their ‘facts’ were only those of the layman.
    • Case 2
    • Theft 1801 – reveals a medical challenge to one aspect of the conventional lore surrounding derangement: the existence of lucid intervals
    • Even faced with evidence of marked derangement, a jury was likely to remain unconvinced of the prisoner’s insanity if a witness could be found to relate occasions when the accused had appeared ‘regular in his habits
    • Such testimony suggested that the criminal act might have been perpetrated during a ‘lucid interval’.
    • Dr Leo suggested an expanded meaning to the ‘manic’ phase of lunacy: a form of mania which evinced artful, rather than frantic behaviour
    • That Lawrence had sufficient possession of his wits to steal the spoons did not necessarily imply a temporary return to rationality, commonly referred to as a lucid interval. Rather, mania itself could encompass a state of mind which permitted the purposeful, if demented, pursuit of an objective.
    • Case 3
    • Thomas Bowler shoots friend William Burrows after fighting, trial for attempted murder
    • Before the medical witnesses were called, the jurors learned that the prisoner’s erratic behaviour dated from a fit of apoplexy suffered as the result of a riding accident in a hayfield. Bowler’s son-in-law provided a vivid description of the prisoner’s memory lapses, incoherent conversation, and unprovoked quarrelsomeness.
    • Dr Ainsley talked about him having deluded moments- so not constantly insane (case 1), or insane generally with lucid intervals (2)
    o MR GURNEY: The old delusion, acting on his mind, will lead him to do any act. DR AINSLEY: Undoubtedly it will… COURT: Not conscious that he is doing wrong. DR AINSLEY: Most likely.
    • the medical witness implicitly challenged the restrictive polarities of complete mania and lucid interval as suitable descriptions of the derangement suffered by these particular prisoners.
    • Dr Ainsley’s appearance in 1812 marks the first time that a medical witness at the Old Bailey used this term to call into question what appeared on the surface to be purposeful, intentional action

    05 Mar 2017, 16:53

  2. Zoe Zbrzezniak

    • Case 4
    • An unconscious forgery
    • 1833, Elizabeth Wratten was indicted for forging a cheque for four pounds and nine shillings
    • The law’s concern with culpability speaks to the individual’s capacity to understand the circumstances surrounding his or her actions. In this trial, Uwins suggested that one could perform purposeful actions, yet fail to recognize the criminality of one’s conduct. He was not suggesting a form of partial insanity, Uwins argued that she knew what she was doing, but ‘without a consciousness that there was anything wrong in it’.
    • How was it possible for him to know this, when the lay observer would naturally infer that forgery presupposes a criminal intent?
    • Uwins asserted that it was possible to act without consciousness because he had seen it happen before. He neither declared the prisoner sane nor insane.
    • he underscored his impartiality by declaring, ‘I do not come here as an advocate, nor do I positively say she was not conscious of the delinquency of the act.’ He was in court to advise the jury about how insane people may act
    • Elizabeth Wratten’s trial in 1833 affords an interesting opportunity to compare the three professional roles which typified the early nineteenth century medical community’s encounters with the mad: the general practitioner who treated the deranged ‘in the character of a physician’ (usually for a fever, a fit, or a head injury of some sort); the gaol surgeon sent by the court to observe the prisoner, and the asylum superintendent or medical attendant.
    o Not until a generation of specialist asylum doctors came of age did the general practitioner’s degree of familiarity with insanity come to be thought insufficient.
    o By the second third of the nineteenth century, the general physician, surgeon, or apothecary was making fewer and fewer appearances at the Old Bailey.
    o The gaol surgeon was everywhere in evidence, but his capacity (or willingness) to comment upon the protean nature of madness was subsumed under a more pressing concern: unmasking fakery
    • Case 5
    • Edward Oxford’s trial is significant because it marks the formal introduction of the conception of moral insanity – a form of distraction in which the afflicted was under the most abstract fury, yet experienced no defect in reasoning
    • reason could in fact remain intact while the individual was swept into fury by a morbid state of the passions – or by the force of an autonomous and deluded imagination. As insanity thus became ‘de-intellectualized’, reason increasingly became separated from the will, and the emotions from reason
    • Prichard averred that ‘some ruling passion seems to have entire possession of the mind’. The impulsive nature of the will impelled the person into motiveless criminal activity.
    • Oxford’s lack of any delusion and his awareness of the nature of his act were themselves proof of insanity
    • Madness could lie behind the most seemingly purposeful acts, but like so many medical phenomena, could not be detected by the naked, or rather, the untrained eye.
    • “-1 mention lesion of the will, as a term which a highly reputed writer on insanity has chosen to designate a form of insanity … [I]t means more than a loss of control over the conduct – it means morbid propensity – moral irregularity is the result of the disease”
    • One sees in this fifth and final case the dynamics of an evolving forensic psychiatry: professional experience in treatment, claims to expertise thus acquired, and an attempt to move the grounds of professional inference beyond surface impressions to the correlation of physical with mental pathology.
    • medical witnesses stressed the naivety of the layman’s acceptance of surface calm as proof of a return to rationality
    • there simply were no self-evident facts when the acts of madmen were reported by nineteenth-century laymen.

    05 Mar 2017, 16:53

  3. Louisa Helliker

    Nigel Walker – Crime and Insanity in England – ‘Introduction’
    • There is a point of view which views crime as ‘as attributable to some degree of mental illness’. Argues this view is less fashionable, most crimes due to inadvertence (e.g. car crash) or opportunity, rarer from poor self-control or exhibitionism. Frequency of abnormal cases overestimated by psychiatrists, underestimated by lawyers. (p. 1)
    • To differentiate mental abnormalities vs disorders, definition offered for a disorder as those abnormalities that are the concern of psychiatrists, however says under this definition homosexuality could be considered either depending on the cultural setting. (p. 2)
    • Mental disorders divided into ‘sub-normality’ of intelligence/competence, ‘mental illness’, and personality disorders. These terms superseded nineteenth century legislation, terms such as ‘insanity’ and ‘lunacy’ became unpopular as ‘intolerably blunt’. (p. 3)
    • Crime easier to define, any activity penalised by criminal law. Mistakenly used by people to describe acts they believe ought to be criminal, e.g. ‘crimes against humanity’. Huge breadth of what was termed criminal, at one point it was anything disapproved of by Protestants, now prosecutions are more formal that heavy-handed justices of past. (p. 3)
    • Levels of mental disorder difficult to estimate, based on patients registered to hospitals, equally difficult to estimate numbers who become entangled in the law as a direct result as their mental disorders. Some offences do no lead to charges because the perpetrator when undetected, victim too embarrassed/scared, evidence weak etc. (p. 4-5)
    • Innovations only accepted when experiences shows difficulties in current system which can be circumvented no other way. Situation needs to occur with frequency, up until 17th century there were very few mental disorder cases due to smaller population. (p. 6-7)
    • In addition there are mental disorders which the author argues ‘must have been more or less prevalent at different eras’. For example disorders associated with age less common when life expectancy was 40, alcohol related disorders not common until alcohol became cheaper and more available in the early 18th century. However nutrition related disorders were more likely. (p. 7)
    • Social psychiatrists point to environment, for example would argue that rural medieval villagers were less likely to have schizophrenia that 20th century city-dwellers. However most believe in heredity causes, for examples studies involving twins where likelihood increases if the twins are identical, i.e. from a single ovum. (p. 8)
    • Sources concerning mental health difficult to come by, legal history ‘infinitely better documented’ than psychiatric history, even these are generally unintelligible to all but scholarly lawyers. In addition psychiatric sources are almost always concerning atypical cases. False tendency to recognise the earliest recorded case as the first of its kind overall, so must be careful in this sense. (p. 11)

    07 Mar 2017, 16:42

  4. Louisa Helliker

    Walker, Crime and Insanity, ‘M’Naghten’s Case and the Rules’ (ch. 5)
    • By 1830’s Fielding’s Bow Street Runners who fought a ‘guerrilla’ war against crime were superseded by Peel’s Metropolitan Police, since the police had to deal with the mentally disturbed on the front line they became increasingly important court witnesses. (p. 84)
    • Punishment also changed, from transportation to state penitentiaries, restriction on capital punishment except for murder. (p. 84)
    • Mentally ill concentrated in Broadmoor asylums rather than gaols, ‘the lunatic was no longer a familiar sight’. Age of reason gave way to age of statistics, recorded when insanity was used as a successful plea but not when it was unsuccessful. (p. 85)
    • John Haslam’s Medical Jurisprudence as it relates to Insanity according to the Law of England, attempted to educate lawyers on insanity since those exhibiting silent behaviour often not treated as insane, had to show signs of the bizarre which was misleading. (p. 89)
    • In M’Naghten’s case (1843) he complained of pains in his head and believed himself to be subject of persecution from the police, church, and Tories (for voting against them). Ended up shooting prime minister’s secretary Drummond after mistaking him for Peel. (p. 91)
    • No medical evidence was offered during the trial, insanity undermined by prosecution as being insufficient to justify political assassination. (p. 92)
    • QC Cockburn argued in favour of partial insanity, since he could function in other areas of life, and law to this point only recognised general insanity, leading the accused incapable of telling right from wrong in only certain situation. (p. 94)
    • Verdict sent M’Naghten to Bethlem hospital then Broadmoor, where he became one of the first male patients and eventually died from tuberculosis. (p. 95)
    • Debated by government and judges, one judge Lord Chief Justice Tindal argued that should have a man have delusions that another was trying to kill him, and so killed his ‘attacker’ believing he was attacking in self-defence, then he should be excused from punishment. However this doesn’t excuse a man under delusion who believes his act to be morally right even if he knows it is legally wrong. (p. 99)
    • Also believed that all jurors should be told the accused is sane ‘until the contrary is proved to their satisfaction’. (p. 100)
    • Some judges refused to hear doctor’s opinion, believing this was surmount to the doctor’s making a judgment on the facts, which was the jury’s role and not theirs. (p. 102)

    07 Mar 2017, 16:42

  5. Isabel Lock

    Janet A. Tighe, ‘The Legal Art of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Searching for Reliability’, in Charles E. Rosenberg and Janet Golden (eds), Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History:

    • p. 206: The book is set in America. Moral insanity was a nonviable social category. It intensified rather than reduced conflict.
    • p. 207: Law and legal profession has been overlooked in “framing” disease. The law’s role in leading public debate over mental disease definitions supplied by the psychiatric profession.
    • p. 208: Gap between medical and legal definitions of mental illness and the struggle between the two professions to bridge it. America’s first medical experts on mental disease were the asylum superintendents of the 1840s. American lawyers during the second quarter of the 19th century began using physicians specialising in mental illness as expert witnesses in cases involving insanity.
    • p. 209: Doctors were asked to give their opinion of the mental status during proceedings, either on a patient they had treated or as general experts. There was inherent suspicion during this century as to disease entities affecting the will and/or emotions. Moral insanity as a term was then introduced in legal enquiries. Lawyers also often voiced their dislikes and likes of the medical profession in court at times too, usually when a medical witness was being hostile during a cross-examination.
    • Moral insanity was a visible symbol of a powerful, generalised movement in American psychiatry, the expansion of the definition of insanity to include a class of mental disorders affecting emotions rather than reason or intellect.
    • p. 210: Moral insanity had become ‘the single most controversial psychiatric disease definition presented in American courts.’ Must be proved at the time of committing the act that the offender was medically insane. Moral insanity clashed with the laws traditional reason-focussed model of mental illness. Lawyers also did not approve of the friction and contradiction it posed to one of the basic tenets – individual responsibility. It was this that gave the law its coercive power over the individual and thus its force in society. Moral insanity assumed that each individual is a free moral agent. ‘All human action, including crime, was thus the product of free and deliberate choice.’
    • p. 211: It wasn’t only based on whether the defendant was mentally ill but if this in turn had been a cause of “defect of reason” and thus a “subjugation of his moral freedom”.
    • Mental illness often included remote causes such as “youthful masturbation”, unfortunate home life, bad companions or poor heredity such causes seemed irrelevant in a lawyer’s world.
    • Fear that psychiatry was being used to shield who were evil rather than ill.
    • p. 212: Much of the general public also agreed that moral insanity was a dangerous doctrine. Ministers, moral philosophers, politicians, ordinary citizens and some physicians joined the legal profession in denouncing moral insanity. Saw the doctrine as a threat to social order because it undermined basic religious and legal principles, like free will and individual responsibility. Endangered the laws ability to control dangerous individuals. Widespread campaign attempting to stop this doctrine but was not well organised, dejection was commonly found in many well-respected legal and medical journals. Defence experts avoided the term moral insanity, the prosecuting attorneys introduced it to the trial as a way of undermining the credibility of defence witnesses.

    08 Mar 2017, 10:40

  6. Isabel Lock

    Janet A. Tighe, ‘The Legal Art of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Searching for Reliability’, in Charles E. Rosenberg and Janet Golden (eds), Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History continued…

    • p. 213: Some defended moral insanity but they had sceptical quality which did little to improve its reputation. The legal consensus about moral insanity’s “absurdity” did little to eliminate the disease category until physicians began to discredit it in medical circles.
    • p. 214: Growing legal scepticism and mistrust about the value of psychiatric diagnoses. There was a fear that the moral insanity theory revealed a basic weakness in all psychiatric knowledge. There was a lack of physicians’ “certain knowledge”.
    • p. 215: ‘…the psychiatric profession itself was losing its hold on the moral insanity doctrine.’ It was no longer a disease category but an explosive social and legal issue. The psychiatric profession developed further meanings and definitions of mental disease and how these effected the human mind and emotions, thus further blurring the distinction between sick and bad which was of utmost importance to the legal profession.
    • p. 216: The law wanted consistency from these physicians as these numerous and overlapping definitions confused the law. 1885, insanity law expert Clark Bell called for a uniform “classification of mental diseases”, however this failed.
    • p. 217: There is still confusion and a legally suitable definition of mental illness has not been achieved. Confusion has also been caused by individual states and the federal government have developed their own distinct rules.
    • p. 218: 19th century lawyer, Francis Wharton, claimed that the law needs certainty and the medical profession is symbolic of this truth, as it “bears the seal of technical science.” The physician had a position as the scientist which was integral to the law and mental illness.
    • p. 219: But what happened to certainty when medical scientists disagreed? But Wharton said that this should not be an issue and should not cause distrust or doubt in the medical profession in the place of respect.
    • p. 220: Early twentieth century mental health law experts were also convinced of the destructive nature of psychiatry within the law.

    08 Mar 2017, 10:41

  7. Oliver Baldwin

    Daniel N. Robinson, Wild Beasts and Idle Humours: The Insanity Defence from Antiquity to the Present

    • Thomas Erskine discusses that the complexities of mental illness mean that the meaning of an action cannot be inferred from the action itself.

    • An otherwise seemingly reasonable person by be convinced and deluded on one subject and until that subject comes to play they appear calm and collected.

    • How from physical actions can there be a clear understanding of what is criminal intent or delusional behaviour. Especially from a jury not versed in the mind and how it works.

    • Between 1796-1843. The York retreat set up by Quakers took in patients of whom 36.1% suffered from mania, 32.1% from melancholy and moral insanity only accounted for 0.6%.

    • The French Revolution, American War of Independence and reform movements in Britain all brought a focus onto the wellbeing of the individual in Britain.

    • Charles Hood called for facilities set up in response to the degree and nature of criminally insane acts.

    • The patients should be treated in accordance to their condition rather than the physical actions their conditions yield.

    • James Prichard wrote A Treatise on Insanity and Other Disorders of the Mind and On Different Forms of Insanity in Relation to Jurisprudence in 1835 and 1842 respectively.

    • He discusses insanity affecting moral understanding as well as intellectual.

    • He advocates that insanity, despite the level and scale of it should allow acquittal of all patients.

    • There is debate among academics within the 19th century on the effect of the environment and education on those with mental health issues.

    • There is a disconnect between what is discussed within academic circles and how people in society are educated about it.

    08 Mar 2017, 11:44

  8. Aksana Khan

    • How was madness defined by the courts?

    When looking at arson, Jonathan Andrews highlights how the Victorians compared to those in Europe, challenged the distinction between insane and sane arson.

    General trends
    1. Before 1850, Anglophone sources in medical jurisprudence (medio-legal and mental medicine specialists) ignored or were slow to look at insane arson as a genuine mental health disorder. Cases of arson tended to be dealt in isolation as opposed to being grouped together. This differed from European specialists who recognised pyromania/insane incendiarism.
    2. ‘Debate continued during the nineteenth century as to whether pyromania (along with other ‘special’ manias) was an instinctive or impulsive madness, a moral or monomaniacal form, or a distinct mental disorder at all, though the concepts were far from mutually exclusive.’ (Issue 3, p. 252)
    3. ‘by the 1890s some standard textbooks on insanity, the law and medical jurisprudence were complacently registering pyromania as a relatively definitive and uncontested diagnosis… Yet few British manuals included detailed discussions, let alone dedicated sections/chapters, on the subject. Many US textbooks were also rather dismissive, pyromania suffering neglect not only by comparison with homicidal mania but also compared with more novel concepts such as puerperal mania, kleptomania and dipsomania.’ (Issue 4, p. 390)
    4. ‘Yet in Britain pyromania and impulsive arson remained highly contested and seldom used diagnoses, while by the early 1900s many forensic psychiatric experts, including Broadmoor’s (then) Superintendent and Deputy, Richard Brayn and John Baker, were asserting emphatically that ‘sudden impulse’ had been misapplied and over-used in the courtroom. Revising the discourses of the 1850s and 1860s which had informed mid-Victorian sensationalist literary portrayals, they objected that many putatively impulsive crimes were in fact ‘carefully planned and long thought out’, the result of prolonged ‘brooding’ (Baker, 1903: 438–49, and discussion, 449–50). More stress, they argued, should be placed on prevailing morbid ideas and delusions leading to action and less on the presence (or lack) of deliberation. Numerous continental and (somewhat fewer) Anglo/American criminological surveys had touted pyromania and kleptomania more enthusiastically as arising from morbid instinct and impulses, and thus as more broadly exculpable. Significantly, however, British medico-legal and medico-psychological specialists, determined to defend the scientific boundaries of their own particular areas of expertise, expressed considerable reservations regarding criminological contributions to debates on insanity and crime.’ (Issue 4, pp. 393-394)

    Comparing Victorian Britain to the continent
    1. European practitioners on the other hand sought to recognise pyromania as an impulsive mental disorder (pyromania is gratified by an irresistible impulse and gratification in fire). They saw it as instinctive insanity. Arson received a more sympathetic hearing in north Germany (where it was frequent amongst juveniles), in France (where arguing irresistible impulse and provocation defense was admitted to prove insanity). (Issue 3, p. 250).
    2. Arson, murder, violent assault, rape/sexual offences were seen not as just emotionally charged acts of revenge, but crimes of passion. This was the conclusion drawn by Delbruck. Whereas ‘crimes of passion’ as a defence was increasingly less successful and uncommon in Victorian Britain. According to Wiener, ‘By the 1880s, ‘intolerance’ of these defences was becoming a marker ‘of British identity and superiority’, and similar intolerance also appears to have furthered juridical resistance to special pleading based on such medicopsychological doctrines as irresistible impulse (Weiner, 2004).’ (Issue 4, p. 399).
    From

    08 Mar 2017, 16:55

  9. Amie Sleigh

    Joel Peter Eigen, ‘”I answer as a physician”: Opinion as Fact in Pre-McNaughtan Insanity Trials’, in Michael Clark and Catherine Crawford (eds), Legal Medicine in History

    - certain people with knowledge beyond the general public (physicians and surveyors etc) could give an opinion in court which would be taken as fact.
    - medical voices are given particular importance in court.
    - Up until the 19th century, family and friends could give evidence as to a defendants insanity. This became less accepted in the 19th Century, hence why doctors increasingly became witnesses, as complete insanity was grounds for acquittal.
    - forensic-psychiatric witnesses succeeded in establishing a role in the courtroom because they skilfully employed medical ideas to address basic elements of intention: consciousness, control, contrivance.
    -Trial narratives of the testimony and cross-examination of medical witnesses reveal not only an evolving professional consciousness but a growing sel f confidence in medicine’s claims to a privileged role in the detection of criminal lunacy.

    08 Mar 2017, 22:21

  10. Oliver Rea-Jayson

    o The Prisons Act of 1787 was the first clear legislative provision for the mentally ill in Ireland and resulted in the establishment of ‘lunatic wards’ in ‘houses of industry’ (also known as poorhouses and workhouses).
    o Women admitted to the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dublin between 1910 and 1948 were predominantly married and Roman Catholic, with a mean age of 36.4 years. The majority were convicted of a crime (85.7 per cent), of whom 75.0 per cent were convicted of killing, most commonly child-killing. The most common diagnoses were ‘mania’ or ‘delusional insanity’ (38.1 per cent) and ‘melancholia’ (23.8 per cent); 7.1 per cent were considered ‘sane’.
    o In the case of women convicted of child-killing, it is notable that the possible alternatives to detention in the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum included the death penalty.
    o In this respect, these Irish data support Marland’s observation that women who experienced mental illness following child-birth tended to be ‘treated sympathetically by the medical profession and courts’.
    o In common with similar studies from other countries, these data demonstrate that the fate of these women was largely determined by a combination of societal, legal and medical circumstances, as evidenced by the socio-economic profile of women admitted and changes in admission patterns following the introduction of the Mental Treatment Act 1945.
    o The Dangerous Lunatics (Ireland) Act 1838 mandated the transfer of dangerous ‘lunatics’ or ‘idiots’ from prisons to asylums on the recommendation of two magistrates, who could also seek medical opinion if they deemed it necessary.
    o Owing to widespread abuse of the ‘dangerous lunacy’ provisions, the Central Criminal Lunatics Asylum Act 1845 amended the admission procedure to require evidence, provided under oath, to confirm the ‘dangerousness’ of the potential asylum patient.
    o Owing to the opening of the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Dundrum in 1850, further legislative changes were enacted, so as to permit the transfer of prisoners between prisons and asylums, and introduce the verdict of ‘guilty but insane’ for individuals who suffered from mental illness at the time of an offence.
    o Smith, in particular, draws attention to the controversies that attended the emergence of the insanity defence in Victorian courtrooms and outlines medical objections to the ‘exclusively legalistic way of thought’ that determined, in large part, the contents of the M’Naghten rules governing criminal insanity.
    o The resultant tension between medical and legal professions was largely attributable to the relatively recent renewal of medical interest in insanity, which challenged established, entrenched legal views of issues related to criminal responsibility.
    o An increased role for medical evidence was encouraged, nonetheless, by the introduction of defence lawyers who sought expert medical opinion to support insanity defences in British courts.
    o The emergence of shared perspectives (the establishment of the M’Naghten insanity defence and its increased use in Victorian courtrooms) was a critical factor in the emergence of a distinct specialty of forensic psychiatry and the establishment of dedicated asylums for individuals who demonstrated offending behaviour in the context of apparent mental illness.
    o The first dedicated asylum for the criminally insane to be established in the United Kingdom was the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Dundrum, Dublin. The asylum was founded under the provisions of the Lunatics Asylums (Ireland) Act 1845 and opened its doors in 1850. It accepted admissions directly from the courts (when an individual was declared ‘guilty but insane’) and from prison (when the prison surgeon believed the individual was mentally ill).

    08 Mar 2017, 23:57

  11. Aleemat Salami

    Marland, Getting Away With Murder? Puerperal Insanity, Infanticide and the Defense Plea
    • May 1867, Elizabeth Branwell drowned her infant son
    • She neither confessed nor hid her crime or tried to disguise it as an accident
    o “Her story was one where her state of mind was responsible for an action which was totally out of character”
    • The coroner was sympathetic towards her claiming that she had suffered a lot of distress before and after the murder
    • Elizabeth was committed to a local asylum
    • The context of this crime was one that had people, both on a local and national scale, concerned about “the ease with which women were concealing their births”
    • During the mid-1860s the public outcry about the high incidents of infanticide reached its peak
    o In 1864, Infanticide was declared as most prevalent as it had ever been in any other time history
    • “In 1803 Lord Ellenborough’s Act had overturned the harsh Stuart law od 1624, which decreed that the mother of a bastard child was guilty of murder and liable to the death penalty if she tried to conceal the birth by hiding the body of the infant”
    • “The onus fell on the mother to prove that the child had been still-born or had died of natural causes”
    • Thus, from 1803, infanticide was treated like any other murder, the mother viewed as innocent until proven guilty
    • Infanticide was viewed as the antithesis of female nature, a rejection of maternal ties, feelings and duties
    • Therefore, insanity as a defense plea “satisfied some of the ambiguities surrounding infanticide”
    • “It mediated between the wrath provoked by high levels of child murder and the sympathetic approach to mothers who committed the crime”

    09 Mar 2017, 00:33

  12. Aleemat Salami

    • Dr Robert Gooch produced the first detailed account in English of puerperal insanity in 1820
    • In 1822 an Old Bailey trial was the first instance of “gender-specific psychophysiological debility: puerperal insanity”
    • It was difficult to define but general consensus puts it into two categories:
    o Melancholia: a form of intense misery which was likely to result in permanent insanity and a lapse into drollery or dementia
    o Mania: distinguished by overexcited, disruptive and deviant behaviour usually curable within a few months
    • Mania appeared most frequently in infanticide cases
    o Puerperal insanity deemed a temporary condition meant that women were often recovered by the time of trial or by the time she was examined by a doctor
    • The proof of the existence of insanity was often readily accepted even on the slimmest evidence
    • Despite the fears about mothers killing their children, there was an ease with which “the label insanity could be applied or accepted by medical men and laymen, judges, witnesses, jurors, neighbors and the public”
    • “But many of the women acquitted were seen as being in need of neither punishment nor a cure, since doctors testified that, though insane when the crime had been committed, the women were fully recovered by the time the case came to trial”
    • Though judges abhorred infanticide, they still advised juries to take into consideration the evidence explaining the woman’s state of mind and to acquit them
    • Insanity could explain what could just couldn’t reconcile, how a mother could kill her child, “why naturally good mothers for a short time became murdering demons”

    09 Mar 2017, 00:33

  13. Yetunde Abdou

    Gender, Crime and Mental Disorder in Nineteenth-Century Ireland – Pauline Prior
    Context: Managing Crime and Mental Disorder
    • Psychiatrists in Ireland spoke for individual men and women who stood before the courts for a serious crime
    • Many trained in EN/ SC
    • Wide range of opinion on the meaning of insanity and its impact on criminal behaviour:
    o GW Abraham (1886) summary of the legal view – in the interests of the safety of the whole Commonwealth, which people with this condition can affect, it is ‘under the protection and domino of the laws’; a person ‘alleged to be unsound of mind may, through apparent absence of disorder or intellect, create the belief that he ought to be placed under tutelage, for safety of person or property; and it is to the judicial ascertainment of the truth on this particular that the common inquisition of office is directed.’
     So the meaning is voiced in terms of protecting the person form being exploited, and also protecting society
     Did not address the character of the person
    o Medical view was parallel to the legal one – Non one definition of insanity BUT was defined by doctors for the purpose of treating patients
     Mani, Melancholia, Dementia, Monomania – associated with mental illness
     Imbecility, Idiocy – Intellectual disabilities
     Mental Affections complicated with Epilepsy – form of psychosis, rare condition
     Not all doctors were in agreement but was generally accepted as a framework for the time
    o ‘mental disorder’ is a modern term, ‘mental aberration’ more accurate for the time
    o Drs Francis White and John Nugent (who both used the term) both dominated the medical debate on lunacy during this period (mid c19)
     Mental Aberration – diverse; variety of origins (malady itself; genetic; facile transmission; the danger to which society is exposed
    o Insanity for the purpose of deciding the level of responsibility of a crime – in this case, legal was different to medical
     Unsoundness of mind (Dr Joseph Williams) – the grounds to plead insanity should be as uniform as possible
    • Impaired reasoning powers (monomaniacal insanity)
    • States in which the exaggeration or perversion of moral intelligence is evident (moral insanity)
    • Irresistible impulse, independent of moral/ intellectual capacity (‘impulsive insanity’)

    09 Mar 2017, 00:50

  14. Yetunde Abdou

    Punishment or Treatment?
    • Before 1850 views on how to manage criminal lunacy were rarely expressed in government documents in IR except in e contexts of arguments for reform in the law
    • Irish Criminal Lunatics Act of 1838
    • ‘Criminal lunatics had an uneasy existence between prison and asylum, between discourses of guilt or disease’ – prison officials did not consider lunatics as criminals so they should not be treated in the same way
    • ‘captive’ population of Dundrum
    • There should be a facility that could hold them for long periods of their lives in hope of a cure
    • Nice surroundings
    • Wanted to treat the patient to get to a state desired by society (morally reputable, disciplined and industrious)
    Men who Killed Women
    • Dr Terrence B Brodie
    o Murdered his wife, Molly, in July 1886 but was still able to start a new life in South Africa
    o Pleaded alcoholic insanity – based on medical reports and doctor’s explanation
    o Told the police that there was a plot against him and that his wife did not protect him from those who were trying to kill him – no evidence for this
    o Gave himself up to the police; reported to have wanted to ‘take his fate like a man’
    o His trial in March 1887 found him ‘guilty but insane’ – legal defence focused on his delusions and the fact that he had consumed a lot of alcohol in the days leading up to the crime
    o History of domestic violence towards his wife witnessed by one of their servants, Bridget McDonough, but her word was not strong enough because of her occupation
    o Defence: lawyer wanted to link Brodie’s violent behaviour with his alcohol abuse
    o Temporary insanity could be cause by too much alcohol – which could lead to delusions which were based on the presumption that the victim was threatening his safety
    o Delirium tremens – do not have to be drunk at the actual time of the crime but you still act under the effects of alcohol consumption which leads to a misaligned moral compass
    o That Brodie was under delusions was accepted by the jury despite there being no evidence >>> guilty but insane
    o Brodie was then held at Dundrum
    o Well respected member of the community; personal tragedy gave an excuse for alcohol abuse (death of first wife and children within the space of a few months)
    o Brodie was at Dundrum for six years, where he was cured of his temporary insanity
    o He was the sole heir of his wife’s estate because they had no children so his sisters asked if he be made to leave the country upon his release (£2000) but this would have been legally unacceptable due to the fact that the law wanted to financially protect anybody deemed insane
    o Brodie’s brothers also wanted him to emigrate and Brodie was also willing to
    o Died of a stroke in 1896, leaving his new family badly off, as he had lost everything during the Boer War

    09 Mar 2017, 00:50

  15. Yetunde Abdou

    Women who killed Men
    • Mary Reilly (Galloway) was the only woman in recorded c19 Irish history to use the insanity defence successfully for killing a man – in other instances it was culpable murder with the ruling of the death sentence/ life imprisonment/ transportation OR manslaughter which invariably accompanied a prison sentence
    • Victims are usually spouses or close relatives
    • Low statistical presence; more men kill their wives than the other way around
    • Explanations for this revolved around perceived weakness and compliance; a mother who is passed to the justice system means the destabilisation of the family
    • So it’s not passive compliance BUT active and conscious protection of her family
    • She may plan the destruction of her aggressor when she can no longer comply – this means that the crime CANNOT fail (evidence for culpability of murder)
    • Fem theory – Women need to plan because they are physically weaker than men; it’s a self defence strategy
    • This planning also means that the punishment is more severe is they are caught
    • But not all women plan (alcohol/ escalation/ weapons – evidence of impulsivity rather than a plan)
    • 10 women were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death 1840-1900 in IR

    09 Mar 2017, 00:52

  16. Yetunde Abdou

    • Reilly – 30y/o widowed nurse, arrested in 1887 for the murder of a sick man in her care
    o Accused of throwing him in the fire
    o Again, the defence rested on the link between alcoholism and temporary insanity
    o 3 versions of the story – victim/ police/ media representation
    1. The Police Story – temporary insanity
    a. Was throwing burning coals over the dead body
    b. Temporarily insane from excessive drinking
    c. Official police story consistent with witness accounts
    d. The arrest was a rational and calm situation; low key event
    2. Victim Story – Alcohol and ‘transitory frenzy’
    a. Told by the victim’s family
    b. They were all sleeping while Mary and the victim were in the kitchen; all had a drink of whiskey before; were all awoken by screams then they found him dead
    c. But not all of the family thought that she was drunk
    d. Evidence of alcohol consumption would bolster the defence case
    e. Before the crime she had no evidence of mental disorder; not evidence of subterfuge or deceit after the crime
    f. Had half a bottle of whiskey >>> transitory frenzy despite no previous history of alcohol abuse
    3. Roasting a man alive – the media story
    a. Reported by the Galway Express/Vindicator/ Tuam Herald – the former two more ‘rational’, lattermost more ‘rural’ and observant of the superstitious world
    b. Reported the most sensational aspects
    c. Cases received little attention because of the context (tension between farmers and tenants; agricultural prices; large scale evictions)
    d. Roasting a man alive – headline
    e. Tuam Herald was most sensational – reflected on the influence of superstition – Mary possibly believed her victim was possessed by the Devil
    f. Context: fairy legends; similar cases; believed the victim as a changeling
    4. Mary’s Story
    • Disagreed with other stories; did not believe he was the Devil
    • Accidental death – fell into the fire himself while she was sleeping next to him – inconclusive
    • Declared insane nonetheless
    • Remembered very little of the night
     What actually happened in the kitchen will never be known
     bureaucracy in the legal system from EN resulted in uniformity – an explanation for why Mary was found guilty and insane
     Mary stood out from other women at Dundrum because she killed a man not children
     So her perceived mental instability was not due to any innately female reason
     Became a ‘criminal lunatic’; served 4 years (from 1887)
     ‘recovered’; Emigrated to the USA

    • Reilly set the precedent for successful uses of the insanity defence in instances where women killed men

    09 Mar 2017, 00:52

  17. Blessing Park

    Trial by Medicine – Roger Smith

    → Insanity historically a complex legal/psychological issue. Conflict between ‘legal ritual, the ethics of responsibility, and scientific knowledge of human nature’
    → Argues that most writing on the insanity defence seeks to establish evidence of historically traceable rational practice accepted by both doctors and lawyers and then argues that there is no agreement between them.
    → Argues that the insanity defence did not gain much medical attention prior to approx. 1800
    • Between 1790 and 1830 English coroners’ courts/civil and criminal courts made more use of medical evidence in general, creating a new legal/medical expectation for evidence for insanity
    • Two 1845 acts were a culminations of society’s attitude towards insanity – encouraged the building of county lunatic asylums and established a central commission of Lunacy with wide-reaching powers
    • From around 1830-1880 modern scientific physiology grew to incorporate theories of brain function- in this period the authority of science underpinned medical statements on insanity
    • The formulation of the M’Naghten Rules (aka the ‘Rules’) is viewed as the point of reference in the history of the insanity plea
    • Insanity defence became more visible in medical, legal and lay discussion in the mid-nineteenth century – Question is why was this defence so visible (difficult to find info on how often it was used)
    → Argues that eighteenth-century European/American society decided that there was a social problem, caused by the existence of lunatics. The discovery of the response – the asylum – exemplified a new patter of social control.’
    • ‘A new group with professional expectations, under a central administration, directed specialist institutions for inmates whose lived experience was of routine, discipline and work. These changes were driven on a wave of reformist sentiment in which humanitarian and medical ideals. Such ‘reform’ and particularly the special place it seemed to provide to medicine, was the backdrop for controversy about the insanity plea
    → New historical sociology of medicine transforming the basis for discussing the history of lunacy.
    • First part of Foucault’s history of the human sciences, Madness and Civilization was a powerful catalyst
    ○ Insanity as now known, came into being co-incidentally with the economic, industrial and urban transformations
    • Robert Castell’s L’ordre psychiatrique etc.
    → ‘Insanity became an acknowledged social problem at a time when reconciling individualism and the social order seemed to require a new discipline.
    • New institutions separating madness from poverty, orphanage, vagrancy, and criminality, and each strove for a community to create the good citizen
    ○ Treatment of the insane became a ‘potent symbol’ of society’s ability to regulate its affair
    → Activities of criminal lunatics were ‘few in number but bloody in deed’
    • To bring discipline and not duplicate such behaviour of these people was the foundation of reform
    • Criminal lunatics held a special position within legal/penal systems
    • Broadmoor, a specialist establishment opened in 1863
    • But society not satisfied, felt the insanity plea was associated with the spread of unpunished violence. ‘The insanity plea could attract anxieties about what rapid social change was doing to the national fabric.’
    • ‘Criminal trials display very public choices about the value society attributes to individual actions’
    Chapter 2 – Medical Criticism and Penal Practice
    → ‘Criminal lunatics posed a sharp problem in the rational differentiation of miscreants = ‘ambivalent social position between patients and criminals’

    09 Mar 2017, 07:06

  18. Blessing Park

    Trial by Medicine – Roger Smith

    → Insanity historically a complex legal/psychological issue. Conflict between ‘legal ritual, the ethics of responsibility, and scientific knowledge of human nature’
    → Argues that most writing on the insanity defence seeks to establish evidence of historically traceable rational practice accepted by both doctors and lawyers and then argues that there is no agreement between them.
    → Argues that the insanity defence did not gain much medical attention prior to approx. 1800
    • Between 1790 and 1830 English coroners’ courts/civil and criminal courts made more use of medical evidence in general, creating a new legal/medical expectation for evidence for insanity
    • Two 1845 acts were a culminations of society’s attitude towards insanity – encouraged the building of county lunatic asylums and established a central commission of Lunacy with wide-reaching powers
    • From around 1830-1880 modern scientific physiology grew to incorporate theories of brain function- in this period the authority of science underpinned medical statements on insanity
    • The formulation of the M’Naghten Rules (aka the ‘Rules’) is viewed as the point of reference in the history of the insanity plea
    • Insanity defence became more visible in medical, legal and lay discussion in the mid-nineteenth century – Question is why was this defence so visible (difficult to find info on how often it was used)
    → Argues that eighteenth-century European/American society decided that there was a social problem, caused by the existence of lunatics. The discovery of the response – the asylum – exemplified a new patter of social control.’
    • ‘A new group with professional expectations, under a central administration, directed specialist institutions for inmates whose lived experience was of routine, discipline and work. These changes were driven on a wave of reformist sentiment in which humanitarian and medical ideals. Such ‘reform’ and particularly the special place it seemed to provide to medicine, was the backdrop for controversy about the insanity plea
    → New historical sociology of medicine transforming the basis for discussing the history of lunacy.
    • First part of Foucault’s history of the human sciences, Madness and Civilization was a powerful catalyst
    ○ Insanity as now known, came into being co-incidentally with the economic, industrial and urban transformations
    • Robert Castell’s L’ordre psychiatrique etc.
    → ‘Insanity became an acknowledged social problem at a time when reconciling individualism and the social order seemed to require a new discipline.
    • New institutions separating madness from poverty, orphanage, vagrancy, and criminality, and each strove for a community to create the good citizen
    ○ Treatment of the insane became a ‘potent symbol’ of society’s ability to regulate its affair
    → Activities of criminal lunatics were ‘few in number but bloody in deed’
    • To bring discipline and not duplicate such behaviour of these people was the foundation of reform
    • Criminal lunatics held a special position within legal/penal systems
    • Broadmoor, a specialist establishment opened in 1863
    • But society not satisfied, felt the insanity plea was associated with the spread of unpunished violence. ‘The insanity plea could attract anxieties about what rapid social change was doing to the national fabric.’
    • ‘Criminal trials display very public choices about the value society attributes to individual actions’
    Chapter 2 – Medical Criticism and Penal Practice
    → ‘Criminal lunatics posed a sharp problem in the rational differentiation of miscreants = ‘ambivalent social position between patients and criminals’

    09 Mar 2017, 11:17

  19. Blessing Park

    Chapter 3 – The Medical Viewpoint → Criminal lunatics had an uneasy existence between prison and asylum, between discourses of guilt and disease.
    → Criminal lunatics seemed to ‘encapsulate the whole paradox of moral control in the name of humanity’
    → Certain areas of agreement in alienists’ (??) accounts of insanity; can be traced back to Pinel.
    • Pinel argued that the only species of insanity acknowledged in the 18CE was intellectual disorder

    1. Descriptions of Lunacy

    Chapter 4 – Law and Responsibility
    → When medical opinion needed to be elaborated in legal contexts medicine had to justify itself in the face of the law’s ‘lineage and power’ – law was deemed natural and self-evident
    → Judiciary and counsel had unrivalled professional authority compared to alienists’ (??) questionable social authority – this disproportionate balance of power persisted in the 19th CE regarding the insanity plea
    → The law tolerated the insanity plea in certain circumstances, ‘but these circumstances were rarely defined by medical criteria alone’
    → 1800 ‘Criminal Lunatics Act required juries to record the special verdict of ‘not guilty on the grounds of insanity’ if they found a person to be insane at the time of an offence

    Chapter 8 – Knowledge and Responsibility
    → Summarises the historical arguments around the insanity defence:
    1. Psychiatric Arguments
    ○ ‘Medical men’ specialising in lunacy in the 19CE confronted with the established criminal administration. Powerful members of the judiciary, lawyers, journalists and other physicians resisted their claims to advocate for the accountability of lunatics
    ○ Weakness in the psychiatric argument:
    ○ Empirical issues of claims that there can be specific criteria for defining insanity
    ○ Logical issues in maintaining that a certain sequence of casual events (illness) in contrast to another sequence (health) results in non-accountability
    ○ Issue of legal validity, question of whether courts should focus on medical descriptions instead of information to help ‘fact-finders’ operating under the rule of the law
    2. Legalistic Argument
    ○ Juries believed they had a social duty to ‘restrict exculpatory conditions’
    ○ Two main weaknesses in legalism:
    1. Law provides for insanity as an ‘exculpatory condition’ but it’s very difficult to clearly delineate such conditions
    2. In practice, courts rely upon expert evidence which juries or judges are not competent enough to understand
    3. Professional rivalry
    ○ The insanity defence has often been symbolic of a struggle between the administration of deviance and strategies of direct and indirect control
    4. Contingent Historical factors
    ○ Controversy over insanity as a defence arose from various ‘unfortunate historical circumstances’
    1. Insanity was used as a defence only for murder – following the restriction of hanging to murder from 1830s a successful insanity plea was seen as an alternative to hanging for both critics and supporters. To hang a lunatic would be a brutality that ‘alienists’ wou;dn’t tolerate so they took it as their duty to condemn the law > but more complex. Insanity defence not restricted to capital offences, murder convictions didn’t result in hanging and some alienists favoured hanging even when sanity had been questioned
    2. The M’Naghten Rules
    5. Failure of Communication and Provision of Administrative Machinery
    ○ Continued controversy between psychiatry and the law
    ○ 19CE Law and Medicine followed different values, the law identified with social values maintained through a heavy-handed application of rules and medicine followed humanitarian values, demonstrating a degree of irresponsibility towards society as a whole
    ○ The insanity defence demonstrates the division of value and power between then individual and society

    09 Mar 2017, 11:17

  20. Lewis Boyce

    Legal Change, Convict Activism and the Reform of Penal Relocation in Colonial New South Wales: The Port Macquarie Penal Settlement, 1822–26
    Lisa Ford & David Andrew Roberts

    The article investigates how imperial legal reforms and convict activism combined to challenge the expanding system of internal ‘removal’ and ‘transportation’ in New South Wales during the 1820s. These inquiries seemed to have a large impact on New South Wales, changing the way in which prisoners were managed and administrated. These reforms created unexpected conversations about the legal foundations of local penal administrations, as highlighted by the 1825 Port Macquarie petition.

    The article goes on to describe the penal structures of New South Wales, mentioning the power of magistrates a number of times. Describing them as more responsible for arrivals to the colony than the criminal courts as they sentenced more convicts. Their sentencing is also described as almost arbitrary. The process is described as being more informal than the courts, and personal whim played a dominant role in the sentencing.

    The convicts that arrived were sentenced ‘at pleasure’, which was replaced by ‘for the remainder of original sentence’, which basically intended to bind convicts to the settlement until such time as an improvement in behaviour warranted their release. However these effects were undone in the reforms of the early 1820s. Some convicts carried local and original sentences, and the ‘for the remainder of original sentence’ clause meant that some were freed far earlier than others despite having the same original sentence as they had served more in Britain.

    The 1825 petition was ‘characteristically circumspect’ and focused on the formality of legal actions in a place were even the formal structures of government was makeshift and incomplete. It asked for benevolence rather than legal rights and demonstrates opportunism from the convicts to capitalise on the presence of new centrally appointed legal officers.

    The petition was met with sympathy and efficiency, and was promised to be reviewed. Although ultimately nothing was done, and late in 1825 magistrates continued to send convicts to Port Macquarie for the same customary range of petty offences, and no further action on the prisoners behalf took place.

    However, new legislation and internal action meant that in 1826 the petition began to have an effect. 519 inmates were listed as ‘to us illegal’. The governor prioritised the release of skilled inmates, sending a letter for their release in June 1826. Within three weeks, 400 convicts had been repatriated, and so most of the 1825 petitioners were repatriated.

    09 Mar 2017, 21:33


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