Insanity
Overview
 
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity. In modern usage insanity is most commonly encountered as an informal unscientific term denoting mental instability, or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense.
Quotations

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Transactions of the … North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Volume 71 (Wildlife Management Institute, 1975), p. 54 (attributed to Albert Einstein).

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

Rita Mae Brown, Sudden Death (Bantam Books, New York, 1983), p. 68 (attributed to Jane Fulton).

Encyclopedia
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity. In modern usage insanity is most commonly encountered as an informal unscientific term denoting mental instability, or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense. In the medical profession the term is now avoided in favor of diagnoses of specific mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 such as schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

 and other psychotic disorders
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

. When discussing mental illness in general terms, "psychopathology
Psychopathology
Psychopathology is the study of mental illness, mental distress, and abnormal/maladaptive behavior. The term is most commonly used within psychiatry where pathology refers to disease processes...

" is considered a preferred descriptor.

In English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, the word "sane" derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 adjective sanus meaning "healthy". The phrase "mens sana in corpore sano
Mens sana in corpore sano
Mens sana in corpore sano is a famous Latin quotation, often translated as "A sound mind in a sound body." There is also a sports equipment company with a name based on a twist of this quotation...

" is often translated to mean a "healthy mind in a healthy body". From this perspective, insanity can be considered as poor health of the mind, not necessarily of the brain as an organ (although that can affect mental health), but rather refers to defective function of mental processes such as reasoning. A Latin phrase for "sane" is "compos mentis" (lit. "of composed mind"), and a euphemistic term for insanity is "non compos mentis". In law, mens rea
Mens rea
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind". In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty...

 means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act (actus reus
Actus reus
Actus reus, sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, "guilty mind", produces criminal liability in the common law-based criminal law jurisdictions...

) was committed.

Historical views and treatment

Madness, the non-legal word for insanity, has been recognized throughout history in every known society. Primitive cultures turned to witch doctors or shamans to apply magic, herbal mixtures, or folk medicine to rid deranged persons of evil spirits or bizarre behavior, for example. Archaeologists have unearthed skulls (at least 7000 years old) that have small round holes bored in them using flint tools. It has been conjectured that the subject may have been thought to have been possessed by devils which the holes would allow to escape. However, more recent research on the historical practice of trepanation supports the hypothesis that this procedure was medical in nature and intended as means of treating cranial trauma.

In ancient Israel
History of ancient Israel and Judah
Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of ancient Palestine. The earliest known reference to the name Israel in archaeological records is in the Merneptah stele, an Egyptian record of c. 1209 BCE. By the 9th century BCE the Kingdom of Israel had emerged as an important local power before...

 it was held that disturbances of the mind or emotions were caused by "supernatural forces" or an angry God, as a punishment for sin or failure to follow the commandments. The Old Testament is replete with references to kings and commoners that go insane, and the Jewish prophets were thought to be psychologically abnormal because they acted in strange ways, departed markedly from the norm in appearance, and foretold of future events that few understood.

The Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 replaced concepts of the supernatural with a secular view, believing that afflictions of the mind did not differ from diseases of the body. They saw mental and physical illness as a result of natural causes and an imbalance in bodily humors
Humorism
Humorism, or humoralism, is a now discredited theory of the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person directly influences their temperament and health...

. Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

 frequently wrote that an excess of black bile resulted in irrational thinking and behavior.

Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 made further contributions to psychiatry, in particular the precursor to contemporary practice. They put forth the idea that strong emotions could lead to bodily ailments, the basis of today’s theory of psychosomatic illness. The Romans also supported humane treatment of the mentally ill, and to support such codified into law the principle of insanity as a mitigation of responsibility for criminal acts, although the criterion for insanity was sharply set as the defendant had to be found "non compos mentis", a term meaning with "no power of mind".

The Middle Ages, however, witnessed the end of the progressive ideas of the Greeks and Romans.

During the 18th century, the French and the British introduced humane treatment of the clinically insane, though the criteria for diagnosis and placement in an asylum were considerably looser than today, often including such conditions as Speech disorder
Speech disorder
Speech disorders or speech impediments are a type of communication disorders where 'normal' speech is disrupted. This can mean stuttering, lisps, etc. Someone who is unable to speak due to a speech disorder is considered mute.-Classification:...

, speech impediments, epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

 and depression.

Europe's oldest asylum
Psychiatric hospital
Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are hospitals specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialise only in short-term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients...

 is the Bethlem Royal Hospital
Bethlem Royal Hospital
The Bethlem Royal Hospital is a psychiatric hospital located in London, United Kingdom and part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Although no longer based at its original location, it is recognised as the world's first and oldest institution to specialise in mental illnesses....

 of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, also known as Bedlam, which began admitting the mentally ill in 1403. The first American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 asylum was built in Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

, circa 1773. Before the 19th century these hospitals were used to isolate the mentally ill or the socially ostracized from society rather than cure them or maintain their health. Pictures from this era portrayed patients bound with rope or chains, often to beds or walls, or restrained in straitjacket
Straitjacket
A straitjacket is a garment shaped like a jacket with overlong sleeves and is typically used to restrain a person who may otherwise cause harm to themselves or others. Once the arms are inserted into the straitjacket's sleeves, they are then crossed across the chest...

s.

In medicine

Insanity is no longer considered a medical diagnosis but is a legal term in the United States, stemming from its original use in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

. The disorders formerly encompassed by the term covered a wide range of mental disorders now diagnosed as organic brain syndrome
Organic Brain Syndrome
Organic brain syndrome , also known as organic brain disease or organic brain disorder, is an older and nearly obsolete general term from psychiatry, referring to many physical disorders that cause impaired mental function. It usually does not include psychiatric disorders...

s, schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

, bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

 and other psychotic
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 disorders.

Legal use of the term

In United States criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

, insanity may serve as an affirmative defense to criminal acts and thus does not need to negate an element of the prosecution's case such as general or specific intent. The States differ somewhat in their definition of insanity but most follow the guidelines of the Model Penal Code
Model Penal Code
The Model Penal Code is a statutory text which was developed by the American Law Institute in 1962. The Chief Reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler. The current form of the MPC was last updated in 1981. The purpose of the MPC was to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to...

. All jurisdictions require a sanity evaluation to address the question first of whether or not the defendant has a mental illness.

Most courts accept a major mental illness such as psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 but will not accept the diagnosis of a personality disorder
Personality disorder
Personality disorders, formerly referred to as character disorders, are a class of personality types and behaviors. Personality disorders are noted on Axis II of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV-TR of the American Psychiatric Association.Personality disorders are...

 for the purposes of an insanity defense. The second question is whether the mental illness interfered with the defendant's ability to distinguish right from wrong. That is, did the defendant know that the alleged behavior was against the law at the time the offense was committed.

Additionally, some jurisdictions add the question of whether or not the defendant was in control of their behavior at the time of the offense. For example, if the defendant was compelled by some aspect of their mental illness to commit the illegal act, the defendant could be evaluated as not in control of their behavior at the time of the offense.

The forensic mental health specialists submit their evaluations to the court. Since the question of sanity or insanity is a legal question
Ultimate issue (law)
An ultimate issue in criminal law is a legal issue at stake in the prosecution of a crime for which an expert witness is providing testimony.-Example:...

 and not a medical one, the judge and or jury will make the final decision regarding the defendant's status regarding an insanity defense.

In most jurisdictions within the United States, if the insanity plea is accepted, the defendant is committed to a psychiatric institution for at least 60 days for further evaluation, and then reevaluated at least yearly after that.

Insanity is generally no defense in a civil lawsuit. However, in civil cases, the insanity of the plaintiff can toll
Tolling (law)
Tolling is a legal doctrine which allows for the pausing or delaying of the running of the period of time set forth by a statute of limitations. Certain traditional conditions will toll a statute of limitations:* Plaintiff is a minor....

 the statute of limitations for filing a suit until the plaintiff has recovered from this condition, or until a statute of repose
Statute of repose
A statute of repose , like a statute of limitation, is a statute that cuts off certain legal rights if they are not acted on by a certain deadline.-Statutes of repose and statutes of limitation:...

 has run.

Feigned insanity

Feigned insanity is the simulation of mental illness in order to avoid or lessen the consequences of a confrontation or conviction for an alleged crime. A number of treatises on medical jurisprudence were written during the nineteenth century, the most famous of which was Isaac Ray
Isaac Ray
Isaac Ray was an American psychiatrist, one of the founders of the discipline of forensic psychiatry. In 1838, he published A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity , which served as an authoritative text for many years....

 in 1838 (fifth edition 1871); others include Ryan (1832), Taylor (1845), Wharton and Stille (1855), Ordronaux (1869), Meymott (1882). The typical techniques as outlined in these works are the background for Dr. Neil S. Kaye's widely recognized guidelines that indicate an attempt to feign insanity.

One particularly famous example of someone feigning insanity was the case of Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 boss Vincent Gigante
Vincent Gigante
Vincent Gigante was a short lived professional light heavyweight boxer who was known as "The Chin" Gigante. He fought 25 matches and lost four, boxing 121 rounds. On February 19, 1945, he fought Pete Petrello in Madison Square Garden and won by a knock out in the second round. During his successful...

, who pretended for years to be suffering from dementia, and was often seen wandering aimlessly around his neighborhood in his pajamas muttering to himself. However, testimony from informants and surveillance showed that Gigante was in full control of his faculties the whole time, and ruled over his Mafia family with an iron fist.

Today feigned insanity is considered malingering
Malingering
Malingering is a medical term that refers to fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of "secondary gain" motives, which may include financial compensation ; avoiding school, work or military service; obtaining drugs; getting lighter criminal sentences;...

. In a 2005 court case, United States v. Binion
United States v. Binion
United States v. Binion, 132 F. App'x 89 , is a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit applied two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions United States v. Binion, 132 F. App'x 89 (8th Cir. 2005), is a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth...

, the defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 was prosecuted and convicted
Conviction
In law, a conviction is the verdict that results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime.The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal . In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which counts as an acquittal...

 for obstruction of justice
Obstruction of justice
The crime of obstruction of justice, in United States jurisdictions, refers to the crime of interfering with the work of police, investigators, regulatory agencies, prosecutors, or other officials...

 (adding to his original sentence
Sentence (law)
In law, a sentence forms the final explicit act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. The sentence can generally involve a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime...

) because he feigned insanity in a Competency to Stand Trial evaluation
Competency evaluation (law)
In the United States criminal justice system, a competency evaluation is an assessment of the ability of a defendant to understand and rationally participate in a court process....

.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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