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[[Image:Angelo_Bronzino_003.jpg|thumb|[[Agnolo Bronzino]], [[Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time]] (1540/45), Detail]]
 
'''Insanity''', or '''madness''', is a semi-permanent, severe mental disorder typically stemming from a form of [[mental illness]].
 
   
==Criminal law==
+
{{Main|Mental disorders}}
In [[criminal law]], [[criminal insanity]] is usually defined as an inability to either determine the difference between "right" and "wrong" (or, in a more practical or direct sense, "legal" and "illegal") or understand the consequences of one's own actions. An [[insanity defense]] is based on claiming that the defendant suffers from a mental disorder severe enough to meet either of these criteria, and that a sentence should therefore involve treatment rather than punishment (or, in the case of ''temporary insanity'', that no sentence should be applied at all).
 
   
==Civil law==
+
[[Image:The Rake's Progress 8.jpg|thumb|250px|Inmates at [[Bethlem Royal Hospital|Bedlam Asylum]], as portrayed by [[William Hogarth]]]]
In [[civil law]], insanity renders a person unfit for entering [[contract]]s or other legal obligations. In some judicial systems, it may allow for someone to be [[involuntary commitment|involuntarily committed]]. Many who support the movement of [[anti-psychiatry]] take the position that mental illness is questionable as a diagnosis either legally or medically, and that claims of insanity should not free said persons from responsibility.
+
Traditionally, '''insanity''' or '''madness''' is the behaviour whereby a person flouts societal norms (such as parental authority) and becomes a danger to himself and others. Greek tragedies and Shakespeare often refers to madness in this sense. Psychologically, it is a general popular and legal term defining behaviour influenced by mental instability. It is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a deranged state of the mind or lack of understanding. Today it is most commonly encountered as an informal term or in the narrow legal context of the [[insanity defense]], and in the medical profession the term is now avoided in favour of specific diagnoses of [[mental illness]] as [[schizophrenia]] and other psychotic disorders.<ref name="diag">{{cite book
  +
| last = L M Tierney, S J McPhee
  +
| first = M A Papadakis
  +
| title = Current medical Diagnosis & Treatment. International edition
  +
| publisher = Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill
  +
| date = 2002
  +
| pages = 1078-1086
  +
| location = New York
  +
| isbn = 0-07-137688-7
  +
}}</ref> When discussing mental illness in general terms, "[[Psychopathology|pathology]]" is also considered a preferred descriptor.<ref name=DS>[http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Dr._Joseph_Merlino_on_sexuality%2C_insanity%2C_Freud%2C_fetishes_and_apathy An interview with Dr. Joseph Merlino], David Shankbone, ''[[Wikinews]]'', October 5, 2007.</ref>
   
==Cultural perspectives==
+
== Linguistic roots ==
In some views, what is insane by mainstream definitions is not necessarily a disorder of the mind, but may simply be a different way of being that is judged as unacceptable on social or cultural grounds. This is stronger than the meaning discussed above&mdash;in this case, it is implied that what is seen as actual insanity by others is not (and by extension, that there is no mental illness). Since great legal and social consequences are attached to being declared insane (ranging from possibly having one's freedom curtailed by involuntary commitment to escaping punishment by falsely convincing others of insanity), these matters are a source of considerable controversy.
+
In [[English language|English]], the word "sane" derives from the [[Latin]] adjective ''sanus'' meaning healthy. The phrase "[[mens sana in corpore sano]]" 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]] means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act ([[actus reus]]) was committed.
   
==Historical perspectives==
+
== In Medicine ==
As a state of mental disorder, insanity has historically been attributed to [[supernatural]] or [[divine]] causes where theories of mental illnesses were not developed. Aberrant or destructive behaviour from an individual has been explained as another entity taking over their body ([[demonic possession]]) or as a mental unhinging inflicted by the [[gods]], as punishment for wrongdoing. In these theories, insanity is an external condition overriding an otherwise sane mind (which may not ever manifest itself). That demonic possession occurs and can be a valid explanation for insanity in some cases is still asserted by some, but this view holds no more than minority acceptance.
+
{{wikinews|Dr. Joseph Merlino on sexuality, insanity, Freud, fetishes and apathy}}
  +
Insanity as a diagnosis is now considered a legal term and not a medical term in the United States.<ref>{{cite web
  +
|year=2005
  +
|month=
  +
|url=http://www.jaapl.org/cgi/content/full/33/2/252?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=40&minscore=5000&resourcetype=HWCIT
  +
|title="What’s in a Name?": A Brief Foray into the History of Insanity in England and the United States
  +
|publisher=Journal of the Academy of American Psychiatry and the Law
  +
|accessdate=2007-10-20
  +
}}</ref> The disorders formerly encompassed by the term are [[schizophrenia|schizophrenic]] and other [[Psychosis|psychotic]] disorders. These are characterized by social withdrawal, deterioration of personal care, inability to perceive oneself as a separate entity, rapid shifting of thought and topic, autistic absorption, hallucinatory symptoms, delusions and often depersonalization. Symptoms can be singular or combined with a wide variation among sufferers. Motor activity is generally reduced and appearance become bizarre while perceptual and conversational distortions are evident.
   
===Moral insanity===
+
Medical disorders as thyroid dysfunction, adrenal or pituitary disorders may contribute to the above symptoms and must be ruled out before a psychiatric diagnosis is made. Medical treatment includes hospitalization and antipsychotic medication. Prognosis is usually excellent in alleviation of symptoms but the disorder may be recurrent when medication is halted.<ref name="diag"/>
'''Moral insanity"'''was proposed as a category of medical diagnosis by Dr. [[James Prichard]] in 1835. He described it as "a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the intellect or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucination". Moral insanity was used in Great Britain in the 19th century in court and criminal defense pleas.
 
   
==Slang usage==
+
==Historical treatment==
In popular culture, something "insane" is something extremely foolish, while persons may be deemed "insane" if their behavior strongly deviates from accepted [[social norm]]s. The term is typically negative, but departure from established norms may also be seen as a positive quality; in this case, being "insane" is being daringly unconventional or [[individualistic]]. This use of ''insane'' is illustrated by the following quote from [[Henry David Thoreau]]'s ''[[A Plea for Captain John Brown]]'':
+
During the 18th century, the French and English 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 impediments]] and [[epilepsy]].
:Many, no doubt, are well disposed, but sluggish by constitution and by habit, and they cannot conceive of a man who is actuated by higher motives than they are. Accordingly they pronounce this man insane, for they know that they could never act as he does, as long as they are themselves.
 
   
In this sense, "insanity" is not implied to be an actual disorder, let alone severe.
+
The world's oldest [[Psychiatric hospital|asylum]] is The [[Bethlem Royal Hospital]] of [[London]], also known as Bedlam, which began admitting the mentally ill in 1403. The first [[United States|American]] asylum was built in Williamsburg, Virginia, 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]]s.
   
==See also==
+
==Legal use of the term ==
*[[Michel Foucault]]
+
{{main|Insanity defense}}
*[[Sanity]]
 
*[[Thomas Szasz]]
 
*[[Criminally insane]]
 
   
==External links==
+
While in [[criminal law]], insanity may serve as a defense to criminal acts, in most U.S. states, jurisdictions differ in their definition of insanity. 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]] but will not accept the diagnosis of a [[personality disorder]] 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 his behavior at the time of the offense. For example, if the defendant compelled by some aspect of his mental illness to commit the illegal act, the defendant could be evaluated as not in control of his 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 and not a medical one, the judge and or jury will make the final decision regarding the defendant's status regarding an insanity defense.<ref name="shapirointer">{{cite book
*Rosenhan, David L. [http://psychrights.org/Articles/Rosenham.htm "On Being Sane in Insane Places."]
+
| first=David L.
  +
| last= Shapiro
  +
| year= 1991
  +
| title= Forensic Psychological Assessment: An Integrative Approach
  +
| edition=
  +
| publisher=Simon & Schuster
  +
| location=Needham Heights, MA
  +
| pages=70&ndash;72
  +
| id= ISBN 0-205-12521-2}}</ref><ref name="melton1997">{{cite book
  +
| first=Melton
  +
| last=Gary
  +
| year= 1997
  +
| title= Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers
  +
| edition= 2nd
  +
| publisher=The Guilford Press
  +
| location=New York
  +
| pages=186&ndash;248
  +
| id= ISBN 1-57230-236-4}}</ref>
  +
   
[[Category:Abnormal psychology]]
+
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.
[[Category:Mental health law]]
 
[[Category:Psychiatry]]
 
   
{{Link FA|de}}
+
==See also==
  +
*[[David Rosenhan|Rosenhan, David L.]]
   
[[de:Wahnsinn]]
+
== References==
[[es:Locura]]
+
{{ reflist}}
[[fr:Folie]]
 
[[he:שיגעון]]
 
[[nl:Krankzinnigheid]]
 
[[pt:Loucura]]
 
{{enWP|:''"Madness" redirects here. For the British ska band, see [[Madness (band)]]. For the online [[Macromedia Flash]] series, see [[Madness Combat]].''
 
[[Image:Angelo_Bronzino_003.jpg|thumb|[[Agnolo Bronzino]], [[Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time]] (1540/45), Detail]]
 
'''Insanity''', or '''madness''', is a semi-permanent, severe mental disorder typically stemming from a form of [[mental illness]].
 
 
==Criminal law==
 
In [[criminal law]], [[criminal insanity]] is usually defined as an inability to either determine the difference between "right" and "wrong" (or, in a more practical or direct sense, "legal" and "illegal") or understand the consequences of one's own actions. An [[insanity defense]] is based on claiming that the defendant suffers from a mental disorder severe enough to meet either of these criteria, and that a sentence should therefore involve treatment rather than punishment (or, in the case of ''temporary insanity'', that no sentence should be applied at all).
 
{{wiktionarypar|insanity}}
 
{{wiktionarypar|madness}}
 
==Civil law==
 
In [[civil law]], insanity renders a person unfit for entering [[contract]]s or other legal obligations. In some judicial systems, it may allow for someone to be [[involuntary commitment|involuntarily committed]]. Many who support the movement of [[anti-psychiatry]] take the position that mental illness is questionable as a diagnosis either legally or medically, and that claims of insanity should not free said persons from responsibility.
 
 
==Cultural perspectives==
 
In some views, what is insane by mainstream definitions is not necessarily a disorder of the mind, but may simply be a different way of being that is judged as unacceptable on social or cultural grounds. This is stronger than the meaning discussed above&mdash;in this case, it is implied that what is seen as actual insanity by others is not (and by extension, that there is no mental illness). Since great legal and social consequences are attached to being declared insane (ranging from possibly having one's freedom curtailed by involuntary commitment to escaping punishment by falsely convincing others of insanity), these matters are a source of considerable controversy.
 
 
==Historical perspectives==
 
As a state of mental disorder, insanity has historically been attributed to [[supernatural]] or [[divine]] causes where theories of mental illnesses were not developed. Aberrant or destructive behaviour from an individual has been explained as another entity taking over their body ([[demonic possession]]) or as a mental unhinging inflicted by the [[gods]], as punishment for wrongdoing. In these theories, insanity is an external condition overriding an otherwise sane mind (which may not ever manifest itself). That demonic possession occurs and can be a valid explanation for insanity in some cases is still asserted by some, but this view holds no more than minority acceptance.
 
 
===Moral insanity===
 
'''Moral insanity"'''was proposed as a category of medical diagnosis by Dr. [[James Prichard]] in 1835. He described it as "a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the intellect or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucination". Moral insanity was used in Great Britain in the 19th century in court and criminal defense pleas.
 
 
==Slang usage==
 
In popular culture, something "insane" is something extremely foolish, while persons may be deemed "insane" if their behavior strongly deviates from accepted [[social norm]]s. The term is typically negative, but departure from established norms may also be seen as a positive quality; in this case, being "insane" is being daringly unconventional or [[individualistic]]. This use of ''insane'' is illustrated by the following quote from [[Henry David Thoreau]]'s ''[[A Plea for Captain John Brown]]'':
 
:Many, no doubt, are well disposed, but sluggish by constitution and by habit, and they cannot conceive of a man who is actuated by higher motives than they are. Accordingly they pronounce this man insane, for they know that they could never act as he does, as long as they are themselves.
 
 
In this sense, "insanity" is not implied to be an actual disorder, let alone severe.
 
 
==See also==
 
*[[Michel Foucault]]
 
*[[Sanity]]
 
*[[Thomas Szasz]]
 
*[[Criminally insane]]
 
   
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
*Rosenhan, David L. [http://psychrights.org/Articles/Rosenham.htm "On Being Sane in Insane Places."]
+
[http://psychrights.org/Articles/Rosenham.htm "On Being Sane in Insane Places."]
   
[[Category:Abnormal psychology]]
+
[[Category:History of mental health]]
[[Category:Mental health law]]
+
[[Category:Mental disorders]]
[[Category:Psychiatry]]
 
   
  +
<!--
 
{{Link FA|de}}
 
{{Link FA|de}}
 
 
[[de:Wahnsinn]]
 
[[de:Wahnsinn]]
 
[[es:Locura]]
 
[[es:Locura]]
 
[[fr:Folie]]
 
[[fr:Folie]]
  +
[[id:Gila]]
 
[[he:שיגעון]]
 
[[he:שיגעון]]
 
[[nl:Krankzinnigheid]]
 
[[nl:Krankzinnigheid]]
 
[[pt:Loucura]]
 
[[pt:Loucura]]
  +
[[ru:Сумасшествие]]
  +
[[simple:Madness]]
  +
[[sk:Šialenstvo]]
  +
[[ur:پاگل پن]]
  +
[[yi:משוגע]]
  +
-->
 
{{enWP|Insanity}}
 
{{enWP|Insanity}}

Latest revision as of 10:21, February 17, 2008

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Main article: Mental disorders
File:The Rake's Progress 8.jpg

Traditionally, insanity or madness is the behaviour whereby a person flouts societal norms (such as parental authority) and becomes a danger to himself and others. Greek tragedies and Shakespeare often refers to madness in this sense. Psychologically, it is a general popular and legal term defining behaviour influenced by mental instability. It is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a deranged state of the mind or lack of understanding. Today it is most commonly encountered as an informal term or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense, and in the medical profession the term is now avoided in favour of specific diagnoses of mental illness as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.[1] When discussing mental illness in general terms, "pathology" is also considered a preferred descriptor.[2]

Linguistic roots Edit

In English, the word "sane" derives from the Latin adjective sanus meaning healthy. The phrase "mens sana in corpore sano" 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 means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act (actus reus) was committed.

In Medicine Edit

Insanity as a diagnosis is now considered a legal term and not a medical term in the United States.[3] The disorders formerly encompassed by the term are schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders. These are characterized by social withdrawal, deterioration of personal care, inability to perceive oneself as a separate entity, rapid shifting of thought and topic, autistic absorption, hallucinatory symptoms, delusions and often depersonalization. Symptoms can be singular or combined with a wide variation among sufferers. Motor activity is generally reduced and appearance become bizarre while perceptual and conversational distortions are evident.

Medical disorders as thyroid dysfunction, adrenal or pituitary disorders may contribute to the above symptoms and must be ruled out before a psychiatric diagnosis is made. Medical treatment includes hospitalization and antipsychotic medication. Prognosis is usually excellent in alleviation of symptoms but the disorder may be recurrent when medication is halted.[1]

Historical treatmentEdit

During the 18th century, the French and English 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 impediments and epilepsy.

The world's oldest asylum is The Bethlem Royal Hospital of London, also known as Bedlam, which began admitting the mentally ill in 1403. The first American asylum was built in Williamsburg, Virginia, 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 straitjackets.

Legal use of the term Edit

Main article: Insanity defense

While in criminal law, insanity may serve as a defense to criminal acts, in most U.S. states, jurisdictions differ in their definition of insanity. 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 but will not accept the diagnosis of a personality disorder 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 his behavior at the time of the offense. For example, if the defendant compelled by some aspect of his mental illness to commit the illegal act, the defendant could be evaluated as not in control of his 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 and not a medical one, the judge and or jury will make the final decision regarding the defendant's status regarding an insanity defense.[4][5]


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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 L M Tierney, S J McPhee, M A Papadakis (2002). Current medical Diagnosis & Treatment. International edition, 1078-1086, New York: Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill.
  2. An interview with Dr. Joseph Merlino, David Shankbone, Wikinews, October 5, 2007.
  3. (2005). "What’s in a Name?": A Brief Foray into the History of Insanity in England and the United States. Journal of the Academy of American Psychiatry and the Law. URL accessed on 2007-10-20.
  4. Shapiro, David L. (1991). Forensic Psychological Assessment: An Integrative Approach, 70–72, Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-205-12521-2.
  5. Gary, Melton (1997). Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers, 2nd, 186–248, New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-236-4.

External linksEdit

"On Being Sane in Insane Places."

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