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June 5, 1897


JAMA. 1897;XXVIII(23):1087-1088. doi:10.1001/jama.1897.02440230039007

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The legal standard of responsibility given in the famous answer of the judges to the House of Lords in connection with the celebrated McNaughton case which still stands in the laws of England and many at least of its dependencies, and which has been to a certain extent adopted in this country, has always from the first had the disapproval of competent alienists, those who of all men, are best qualified to estimate the responsibility of the mentally defective. They have used every argument against it, have proved that it is a false criterion in almost every possible way, have shown clinically and pathologically its incorrectness, but have not as yet been able to thoroughly eradicate the belief in its validity from the legal mind. Even in this country where we are in no way bound legally by this utterance, given out at a time of great popular excitement comparable

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