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Reply #25: not to muddy the waters any more, but ... [View All]

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jobendorfer Donating Member (429 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 12:00 PM
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25. not to muddy the waters any more, but ...
There's a risk in this discussion that we might conflate 3 different interpretations of insanity:

There's the legal definition of insanity, here in the U.S.
There's a legal definition of insanity operative in Norway ( and I'm too ignorant to know what that is, but it's probably different than ours. )
Then there are a set of psychiatric disorders, defined in the DSM-IV.

There is overlap between these definitions, but they are NOT the same, and it's easy to lose context.

Legally, in the U.S. the question boils down to, "Did this person understand the implications or consequences of their act?"
One test of this is, "Would this person have done the same thing in the presence of a police officer?"
If yes, the person is usually judged to be insane.
If no, the person is regarded as sane, in the sense that they were sufficiently in tune with reality and aware enough to defer the act until the policeman was gone
and evade the consequence of arrest.

OTOH, the DSM-IV defines psychotic disorders in terms of a set of observable symptoms and behaviors, which include
things like delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized behavior, that sum to severely
diminish a person's capacity to function as a parent, in employment, or at school.


Which is how you can have a team of psychiatrists or psychologists diagnosing someone as psychotic,
yet the (US) legal system saying, "He or she is fit to stand trial."

It also explains why it is that in my home state of Oregon, the largest inpatient psychiatric facility is the Multnomah County Jail.
(Since this is DU, I should probably add: I think this is a terrible thing.)

In all of this it should be stressed that schizophrenia is a condition that devastates the lives of those who suffer from it.
The overwhelming majority of schizophrenics are far more likely to end up homeless and/or victimized, rather than to act as victimizers.
Breivik is a very rare exception.

John

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