Skip to main content

Criminal Law as It Pertains to Patients Suffering from Psychiatric Diseases

Bennett, Maxwell R, Hacker, Peter M S (2011) Criminal Law as It Pertains to Patients Suffering from Psychiatric Diseases. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 8 (1). pp. 45-58. ISSN 1872-4353. (doi:10.1007/s11673-010-9280-0) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:40760)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11673-010-9280-0

Abstract

The McNaughton rules for determining whether a person can be successfully defended on the grounds of mental incompetence were determined by a committee of the House of Lords in 1843. They arose as a consequence of the trial of Daniel McNaughton for the killing of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s secretary. In retrospect it is clear that McNaughton suffered from schizophrenia. The successful defence of McNaughton on the grounds of mental incompetence by his advocate Sir Alexander Cockburn involved a profound shift in the criteria for such a defence, and was largely based on the then recently published “scientific” thesis of the great US psychiatrist Isaac Ray, entitled A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity. Subsequent discussion of this defence in the House of Lords led to the McNaughton rules, still the basis of the defence of mental incompetence in the courts of much of the English-speaking world. This essay considers one of these rules in the light of the discoveries of cognitive neuroscience made during the 160 years since Ray’s treatise. A major consideration is the relationship between “the power of self-control” and “irresistible impulse” as conceived by Cockburn on the one hand, and by cognitive neuroscience on the other. The essay concludes with an analysis of the notion of “free will” and of the extent to which a subject can exert restraint in the absence of particular synaptic connections in the brain.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s11673-010-9280-0
Additional information: Co-author: Maxwell R. Bennett.; number of additional authors: 1;
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Philosophy
Depositing User: Stewart Brownrigg
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 00:05 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 12:30 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/40760 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):