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Article
August 2, 1930

PSYCHIATRY IN RELATION TO CRIME

JAMA. 1930;95(5):346. doi:10.1001/jama.1930.02720050034014

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Abstract

A crime, as distinguished from an accident, is an act that contravenes the law, committed with intent. The law assumes that a man intends the consequences of his acts unless evidence is introduced to show the contrary. Since intent is a state of mind, it follows that study of the mental condition of a defendant in a criminal trial is always pertinent. If the mind of the offender is afflicted by disease so as to distort his feelings or his ability to reason about the facts and circumstances surrounding the act, there can be no crime because the person is not free to form an intent. This attitude is logical and it follows that physicians must be concerned with those who commit crime. Unfortunately, it has been found impossible to formulate a satisfactory definition of what constitutes mental disease or what the law calls "insanity." In the majority of cases

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