- /in san"i tee/, n., pl. insanities.1. the condition of being insane; a derangement of the mind.2. Law. such unsoundness of mind as affects legal responsibility or capacity.3. Psychiatry. (formerly) psychosis.4. extreme folly; senselessness; foolhardiness.[1580-90; < L insanitas. See IN-3, SANITY]Syn. 1. dementia, lunacy, madness, craziness, mania, aberration.
* * *In criminal law, a disease, defect, or condition of the mind that renders one unable to understand the nature of a criminal act or the fact that it is wrong.Tests of insanity are not intended as medical diagnoses but rather only as determinations of whether a person may be held criminally responsible for his or her actions. The most enduring definition of insanity in Anglo-American law was that proposed by Alexander Cockburn (1843). Many U.S. states and several courts have adopted a standard under which the accused must lack "substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law." Some states have abolished the insanity plea, and others allow a finding of "guilty but mentally ill." See also diminished responsibility.
* * *▪ lawin criminal law, condition of mental disorder or mental defect that relieves a person of criminal responsibility for his conduct. Tests of insanity used in law are not intended to be scientific definitions of mental disorder; rather, they are expected to identify persons whose incapacity is of such character and extent that criminal responsibility should be denied on grounds of social expediency and justice.Various legal tests of insanity have been put forward, none of which has escaped criticism. Anglo-American systems, including that of India, base the law of criminal responsibility primarily on the famous case of M'Naghten. In that case (1843) the English judges held that “to establish a defense of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.” Some U.S. courts went further and also relieved from responsibility one moved by an “irresistible impulse.”These rules have been the object of sharp controversy. Critics charge that they express an overintellectualized concept of mental disorder, reflecting outmoded notions of human behaviour. The rules have been criticized as not being based on modern concepts of medical science, thus complicating the work of the psychiatrist in giving expert testimony.The 1954 decision of Durham v. United States promulgated a new rule: “simply that an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect.” In simplicity, this test resembles the Japanese (Japanese law): “An act of an insane person is not punishable.” Such a rule has been supported by some lawyers and judges and by many psychiatrists, but few U.S. courts have adopted it.Many U.S. states and several courts have adopted the test proposed by the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code. This test provides a defense to a criminal charge if, at the time of the act, the accused, by reason of mental disorder or defect, lacked “substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.” In focussing on the volitional as well as the cognitive aspects of incapacity, this test has much in common with the European codes. The Italian penal code, for example, relieves a person of responsibility when he “is deprived of the capacity of understanding or volition.” By the early 1980s two U.S. states had abolished the insanity plea; a few other states had passed laws that allowed juries to find defendants “guilty but mentally ill.” In such a case, the defendant undergoes treatment at a mental institution before the sentence is carried out.The major differences between the civil law of insanity and the common-law variant are procedural. The continental codes ordinarily do not make use of lay juries in establishing responsibility, whereas the English-speaking jurisdictions do. Some countries, including Japan and England, identify a form of mental disorder short of insanity that may be taken into account in mitigating punishment.Insanity is justified as an exemption from responsibility on the grounds that responsibility assumes capacity to make elementary moral distinctions and power to adjust behaviour to the commands of the law. The insane should not be condemned since they cannot be deterred by the threat of penal sanctions. Critics say that the issue of responsibility is less important than the problem of how to identify and treat the disturbed individual. See also diminished responsibility.
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Insanity — • The dividing line between sanity and insanity, like the line that distinguishes a man of average height from a tall man, can be described only in terms of a moral estimate Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Insanity Insanity … Catholic encyclopedia
insanity — in·san·i·ty n 1: unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or… … Law dictionary
Insanity — In*san i*ty, n. [L. insanitas unsoundness; cf. insania insanity, F. insanite.] 1. The state of being insane; unsoundness or derangement of mind; madness; lunacy. [1913 Webster] All power of fancy over reason is a degree of insanity. Johnson.… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
insanity — insanity, lunacy, psychosis, mania, dementia are the leading general terms denoting serious mental disorder. Insanity as a technical term belongs to law rather than to medicine. It is used to cover a wide variety of mental disorders, all of which … New Dictionary of Synonyms
Insanity — Insanity and Civilization That insanity is a form of freedom became the basic assumption of Foucault s most widely read work, Madness and Civilization (1961). The dichotomy is significant; in the precapitalist West of the Middle Ages and… … Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science
insanity — [in san′ə tē] n. pl. insanities [L insanitas < insanus] 1. the state of being insane; mental illness or derangement, usually excluding amentia: not a technical term 2. Law any form or degree of mental derangement or unsoundness of mind,… … English World dictionary
insanity — 1580s, state of being insane, from L. insanitatem (nom. insanitas) unhealthfulness, noun of quality from insanus (see INSANE (Cf. insane)). Meaning extreme folly is from 1844 … Etymology dictionary
insanity — [n] mental illness; foolishness aberration, absurdity, alienation, craziness, delirium, delusion, dementia, derangement, distraction, dotage, folly, frenzy, hallucination, hysteria, illusion, inanity, irrationality, irresponsibility, lunacy,… … New thesaurus
Insanity — For other uses, see Insanity (disambiguation). Insane redirects here. For other uses, see Insane (disambiguation). Engraving of the eighth p … Wikipedia
insanity — The term is a social and legal term rather than a medical one, and indicates a condition which renders the affected person unfit to enjoy liberty of action because of the unreliability of his behavior with concomitant danger to himself and others … Black's law dictionary