Criminality and Mental Disorders

March 25, 2012 6:54pm CST
I've thoughgt about this for a while, the whole "not of sound mind" defence. How can we say that someone was "not of sound mind" and send them to be rehabilitated while others are simply evil and need punishing? Surely the very act of doing something against societal norms in such a gross manner (murder, rape, kidnap, torture etc) means that someone is mentally unstable, not of right mind and in need of help. Where do you draw the line between wicked and mentally unstable?
1 person likes this
2 responses
@megamatt (14331)
• United States
27 Mar 12
Yes it is rather tough to determine. Especially when I'm sure that many people have figured out that not being in sound mind is a defense that does tend to work a lot of the time. Especially if the people who do so, are stone cold sane, but they do the things that they do out of some kind of cheap thrill. Of course, one must wonder if someone would be in sound mind, if they do this awful, horrifying, and vile things out of some kind of cheap thrill. Then again the line is often blurred. And often times how well the person and the evidence can convince the judge or the jury what they are. Of course, there are times where people might have been judged in not in sound mind, because their acting abilities were rather good. Of course, if they were not smart enough to cover their tracks and not get caught, perhaps they are not in sound mind. Who really knows anymore. Then again, vanity is a downfall of many criminals where they want their work to be known.
1 person likes this
13 Apr 12
Interesting answer, thanks, and sorry about the wait on replying. It does run you round in circles. If a person commits a crime for some cheap thrill, surely there is something wrong with them that a caring community should attempt, for the criminal's sake as much as any one else's to correct?
• United States
26 Mar 12
I can see where you are going with this; and yes, for anyone to commit crimes of the nature you've mentioned against society, they must have some sort of disorder in their mentality. But I like to believe the line is drawn as such. There are those who commit these crimes that are aware of the implications of what they are doing, but simply don't care. These are the ones who should be locked away. Then there are those who are so far gone in their instability they have no control over themselves mentally. They aren't aware of themselves, much less the implications of what they have done. These are the ones that need help to come back to reality. I do believe that for the most part, this is how society and the judicial system works when it comes to these matters. But there will always be exceptions to the rule; there are those who know what they are doing, but play things off to convince the judge to allow them rehabilitation when they should be locked away, and there are some who should get the chance to be helped, yet due to one stroke of bad luck or another, they are locked away.
13 Apr 12
Great answer, thank you, and sorry about not replying sooner. Isn't not caring about the implications and consequences of their actions also a sign of mental instability though, or at least a lacking in their education that can be, as with a mental disorder, possibly corrected?
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Apr 12
You have the answer in your own question; "possibly corrected". If the person has enough rationale to recognize and deliberately disobey set law, there is very little possibility that that can be corrected, simply because the individual doesn't want to change. It's not just the degree of mental instability that is a factor, but also the ability and desire to correct.