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December 7, 1901


JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(23):1539. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.02470490037009

The definition of an insane delusion is one of the stumbling blocks of medical experts, second only to that of insanity, a definition of which in a complete and satisfactory way is an impossibility. The fact that false beliefs are held by a large proportion of mankind, and that some of the most utterly irrational are persistently maintained, by apparently intelligent persons in other respects, confuses jurists and the public, and is sometimes used to obscure actual evidence of mental disorder. It is important that physicians, at least, should have clear ideas on this subject and be able to give a reason for the faith that is in them when called to testify as to the value of such indications. In a recent paper1 C. H. Hughes discusses this subject and offers what in his opinion is the correct criterion of an insane delusion. Taking as his text a

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