The Secret History of “Criminally Insane”


From Aeon: “As a former forensic psychologist and prosecuting attorney in New York, I’ve had a front-row seat to the courts’ struggles to define the parameters of this defence of insanity. Until the 20th century, little was known about mental illness. Judging whether a person was deranged – seriously mentally ill and irrational – was seen as a matter for common knowledge. It was a case of ‘I know it when I see it,’ to echo the later words of the US judge Potter Stewart, who in 1964 was struggling to formulate a definition of hardcore pornography that would differentiate it from constitutionally protected speech.”



  1. “Until the 20th century, little was known about mental illness.”

    Now that we’re in the 21st century, we know that the ADHD drugs and antidepressants can create the “bipolar” symptoms.

    And the antipsychotics can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and anticholinergic toxidrome.

    Perhaps “little was known about mental illness,” “Until the 20th century.” Because the psych drugs – that create the symptoms of the “mental illnesses” – weren’t discovered/developed until the 20th century?

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