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Article
September 23, 1893

WHAT SHOULD CONSTITUTE LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY, IN THE MEDICAL SENSE, IN INSANITY?Read before the Section of Neurology and Medical Jurisprudence, at the Forty fourth Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association.

Author Affiliations

PROFESSOR OF NERVOUS AND MENTAL DISEASES IN THE NEW YORK POLYCLINIC.

JAMA. 1893;XXI(13):445-447. doi:10.1001/jama.1893.02420650011001b
Abstract

It is high time that we medical men should impress upon lawyers the fact that the question of legal responsibility in insanity should not be determined by laws, but by facts. As it is, the belief of English and American jurists is that which is embodied in the statutes of almost all of the States, to the effect that knowing the nature and the quality of an act and its consequences should be taken as a full test. As every one in this room will know who is acquainted with the insane, this dictum is worse than ridiculous, for it is false, as there are very few forms of insanity in which the patient is not fully aware of the nature, quality and consequences of an act which he or she may commit. Out of this definition of a legal responsibility has grown the legal belief that a person is

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