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If by insanity we simply mean more or less deviation from the free normal action of the mind, without regard to cause, then, indeed, no mortal is constantly free from it. For as mental activity, in degree and range, is a measure of physical tone and proportion, especially of the brain, it is quite evident the accidents of existence preclude a constant normal. But the term insanity, to the popular mind implies the state of personal irresponsibility and the question in regard to a particular act, is the proof of the existence of this state. The law, with reference to a specific act, simply demands, Was he sane or was he not? implying by the question either a fracture of mental integrity or a degree of derangement beyond which responsibility justly ceases.
It is quite clear that from a practical standpoint, we can not hold to the position that all
CHRISTISON JS. THE ESSENTIAL OF INSANITY. JAMA. 1895;XXV(16):666–668. doi:10.1001/jama.1895.02430420022002i
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