The Definition of Insanity
The dictionary.com definition of insanity is “the condition of being insane; a derangement of the mind.” There are other meanings of the word as it applies to specific situations. The Merriam- Webster dictionary leasts three definitions of insane. The primary definition of the word, according to this dictionary, is ” a deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder,” Schizophrenia is noted as one of the disorders that can occur as a result.
Whats The Definition of Insanity
The definition for insanity covers a number of different meanings. It can be everything from a clinical condition to a state of mind. Each definition insanity is unique and and many people have tried to define it. The term itself has been in use since 1590.
Legal Definition of Insanity
The insanity definition has a meeting all of its own when it comes to the law. Insanity legal definition of the word is “the term given to the mental illness and incapacity to a person to a degree that that the law will recognise the person to be insane,” according to the Law Dictionary.org.There is a distinct difference between the legal meaning of insanity and the medical meaning of insanity.
When one pleads insanity in a court room it is up to the jury to determine if the individual’s criminal act can be overlooked due to their insanity or if they need to be held responsible for it anyway. In a court room it is not up to a psychiatrist to rule that an individual is insane.
There are rules and several tests that are used in a court of law in order to make the determination as to whether or not an individual defendant can be deemed sane. One rule that is used is called the M’Naghten rule, named after Daniel M’Naghten. In 1843 he was cleared of charges that he tried to assassinate Sir Robert Peel, the British Prime Minister at that time. As a result of this court case at a later date in 1843 a new ruling was issued by the House of Lords.
This ruling was “To establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must clearly be proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing was wrong”
Ever since then this is the standard definition that has been used when an individual uses an insanity defense in court. To this day in order for an individual on trial to be able to use an insanity defense it must be proved that the individual is so delusional they are not able to understand or appreciate his or her surroundings.
The tests used in a court of law to prove insanity are the Irresistible Impulse, Substantial Capacity and Products Tests/Durham Rule. The Irresistible Impulse Test states that if an individual has a mental disease they are not responsible for their criminal actions as long as they are unable to control their personal conduct as a result. This test differs from the M’Naughten Rule because it allows for the criminal to understand the difference between right and wrong yet still qualify as legally insane. To pass this test a criminal does not even have to be able to control their behavior if the reason they cannot control it is their mental condition.
The Substantial Capacity Test focuses on will and reason when it comes to the individual being accused. For an individual to pass this test they must not have the necessary mental capacity to recgonize that they are doing something wrong. They can also pass the test if they are not mentally able to behave within the confines of the law.
The Products Test/Durham Rule has to do with the idea that there are many factors of an individual’s personality that can be negatively affected if they are insane. It takes into account that not all of an individual’s personality traits apply to every crime. This rule came about after the famous case of Durhan vs U.S. led to the rejection of the M’Naghten Rule by Judge David Bazelon. The judge rejected the rule because he felt that a person accused of a crime could not be held criminally responsible for their actions if they had been proven to suffer from a mental defect. This rule/test is only applied to such cases that are tried in New Hampshire.
Insanity Plea Definition
In a court of law an insanity plea is the same thing as an insanity defense. The insanity defense definition, according to Definitions.net, is ” A legal concept that an accused is not criminally responsible, if,at the time of committing the act, the person was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act done of if the act was known, to not have known that what was done was wrong.”
In criminal trials the insanity plea/defense is considered an affirmative defense. It is argued that the defendant was legally insane when they broke the law and they can’t be punished for it. Many cases where this type of defense is used call for the defendant to submit to a mental examination from a qualified doctor before the date they are due to appear in court. In cases where an insanity defense succeeds in the court room the defendant is usually required to spend time in a psychiatric hospital.
When someone chooses to use an insanity defense forensic professionals evaluate the person’s behavior. During an evaluation the forensic professional determines whether or not the defendant was able to understand what is right and what is wrong when they committed the crime. In certain jurisdictions the person’s behavior must be evaluated to determine whether they were capable of controlling their behavior as well.
In cases where an insanity defense simply isn’t feasible an individual can be evaluated for simple mental impairment that is only present in an individual temporarily. This is a mitigating factor in many court cases and is known by the term diminished capacity. Some mitigating factors such as a defendant having been intoxicated when they committed their crime may get them a sentence that is shorter than it would have been otherwise or may even led to them dealing with less harsh charges as a result.
Other Types Of Insanity Defense
There are other types of insanity defenses, including volitional insanity, otherwise known as irresistible impulse. In this type of defense the accused is determined to understand the difference between what is right and what is wrong but can’t control what they do because of their mental state. This type of defense is often used in cases where a crime of vengeance occurred. However there are only a limited number of states that will accept this type of defense in their courtrooms.
When a particular state accepts an insanity defense some use statutes to regulate the defense used in court. However, a small handful of states give their courts the authority to set the rules the insanity defense must comply to. Criminal defendants can usually use this type of defense when the the judge in a case advises the jury that they can determine if the defendant was insane when they committed the crime. A judge has the right to allow the jury to do so provided the defendant proved to the court that the theory of insanity could be justified. Anytime an insanity defense is used in the court the prosecution must be notified.
The Controversy Surrounding The Insanity Defense
One of the reasons that an insanity defense is not often used is that there is controversy surrounding its use. When murder cases that are well publicized involve an insanity defense the public, as well as legislators, often begin to question the defense. Both medical and legal commentators have strong opinions regarding whether or not insanity defenses should be used in most cases where they are.
Out of the 50 U.S. states, 48 of them allow for an insanity defense. Advocates of the insanity defense feel that this alone speaks to the need for insanity defenses to be used in the courtroom. However, in roughly 80% of court cases that involve an insanity plea juries do not believe the defendant was legally insane. Though most people believe this defense is mainly used in murder trials it is actually used anywhere from 60 to 70% of the time in cases that involve everything from shoplifting to assault. The general consensus when it comes to insanity pleas is that they are a risky thing to try in any courtroom.
Albert Einstein Definition Of Insanity
“The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results.”
Though most people attribute this quote to Albert Einstein, according to a Huffington Post article, this quote first appeared in text Narcotics Anonymous released in 1983. There is in fact, no definition of insanity albert einstein ever coined. Though he was a genius in many ways, that genius did not extend to knowledge of the law.
Definition Of Insanity Quote
The definition of insanity quote was declared to be the one cliche that is overused more than any other, by Salon.com. This cliche is loved and often used by former President Bill Clinton and his family. This may be one of the reasons this famous quote is so popular within the world of politics.
It seems most media outlets have their two cents to add to this quote:
“They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, and expecting a different result. By that measure, Congress has lost its mind.” –”Over the Cliff and Back,” the New York Times, Jan. 4, 2013.”
“One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. But what do you call it if you do the same thing over and over, and keep achieving different results? Is that sanity?” –”Is Anybody Necessary?,” the New York Times, Jan. 14, 2006.”
“Someone wise once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Under that definition, Americans must be pretty crazy.” –”Americans Think Stimulus Didn’t Work, Want More,” the Atlantic, June 22, 2010.”
“Increasing the debt ceiling should be part of any year-end deal. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.” –”Fiscal-Cliff Deal Done Now,” the Daily Beast, Dec. 19, 2012″