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September 27, 1902


JAMA. 1902;XXXIX(13):774. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.02480390040004

As our knowledge of nervous and mental diseases has developed there has come the realization that the present popular state of feeling as to intentional malicious actions, and especially the interpretation and application of the laws with regard to crime, must undergo a decided modification, if a system of injustice in the name of right is not to be perpetuated and serious wrong done with short-sighted good intentions. This has become manifest in nothing more perhaps than in the gradual evolution of our knowledge of epilepsy. The generally accepted ideas as to the criterion of right and wrong in others' actions fall before the observed anomalies as to moral responsibility occurring in this protean disease, for the study of which modern life is providing so many opportunities that fortunately are not being neglected by our generation. From it come some of the most valuable practical lessons of modern psychiatry.