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Attacks on the Insanity Defense - Biological Psychiatry and New Perspectives on Criminal Behavior

NCJ Number
C R Jeffery
Date Published
247 pages
This book uses the insanity defense controversy to explore the widening gap and increasing conflict between law and psychiatry, applying new research in biological psychiatry and new techniqeus for anlyzing the human brain to propose a medical model for the criminal justice system.
The first chapter contrasts the view of human nature as found in criminal law with those found in psychiatry and psychology. The conflicts between legal and scientific criminology are presented in terms of punishment versus treatment and determinism versus free will. The book reviews current legal concepts of insanity and medical concepts of mental illness. This discussion focuses on methods used to prove insanity and mental illness as well as the relationship of the latter to criminal behavior. An overview of biological psychiatry considers diseases of the brain and new techniques for diagnosing brain diseases such as the EEG and the CAT scan. The legal implications of hypoglycemia, posttraumatic stress syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, alcoholism, sociopathy, and episodic brain dysfunction are developed and new treatment methods discussed. A separate chapter addresses civil liabilities of professionals and agencies responsible for releasing the mentally ill as well as the legal aspects of predicting dangerousness. A crime prevention model is developed that is based on environmental design, psychobiology, and individual prevention strategies rather than retribution and treatment. Legal aspects of this model are examined, such as the right to treatment and right to refuse treatment. References and indexes are supplied.