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Lecture 5

PSYC 3310 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Antipsychotic, Delusional Disorder, Acute Stress Reaction

Course Code
PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

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Lecture 5 Criminal Responsibility and Competency to Stand Trial (May 22)
Expert eyewitness testimony = testimony from expert of fact witness’ testimony i.e. fallibility
Eyewitness testimony (fact witness) = someone who saw/heard or was involved in a criminal activity
Andrea Yates
2001: filled bathtub and drowned children, ages 7, 5, 3, 2 and 6 months killed one by one
Husband: if she received the medical treatment she deserved, then the kids would be alive and well”
Trial 1: guilty of murder
Trial 2: not guilty by reason of insanity Postpartum Mental Illness
o Had been prescribed Zoloft and Haldol after birth of youngest child stopped taking Haldol
because of the side effects
Evolution of Insanity Defence
Insanity aka “madness” is a legal, not a psychological/medical term
What is included under the “madness” umbrella?
o Aristotle (~320 BC) Free will/volition essential for determination of blame
o AD 230: mentally ill excused because of absence of mens rea already punished by mental
Mens rea = guilty mind
Reflects intent/volition/free will
Actus reus = criminal act
o By 1326 England, madness was an absolute defence
Statute of De Prerogative Regis King obliged to use and feed idiots (born mentally
retarded) and lunatics (mental illness)
still no real insight into what constitutes madness
o 18th century: “Wild beast” standard
First formal legal definition of insanity
Acquittal of mentally ill based on lack of understanding of actions, “ no more than
an infant, than a brute or a wild beast(R. v. Arnold, 1724)
Alternatively a lack of understanding applies to a person with understanding <14
year old
Focus on cognitive awareness (understanding)
Hadfield & NGRI Verdict
18000: James Hadfield with high treason for attempting to shoot King George III
o We find the prisoner is not guilty; he being under the influence of insanity at the time the
act was committed
Became known as “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI verdict)
Focus on mental illness but no formal definition
Acquittal resulted in Criminal Lunatics Act
NGRI verdict = confinement in prison or mental hospital for remainder of
Not changed until 1992 in Canada
R. v. M’Naghten (1843) – NEED TO KNOW
Paranoid delusions thought government plotting to kill him
Attempted to assassinate Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister killed private secretary by mistake
Found NGRI placed in mental institution until death 20 years later
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Public outcry no real punishment for insane resulted in M’Naghten (aka McNaughton) Standard
o A person is presumed sane unless it can be clearly proven that at the time of committing the
1. The accused was mentally ill
2. The accused did not know what they were doing
3. The accused did not know what they did was (legally) wrong
i. Knowing elements of M’Naghten standard referred to as
“Cognitive Test of Insanity”
ii. Criticized because of tough standard of absence of capacity for
US Alternatives to M’Naghten
Irresistible Impulse Test changed from cognition to volition
o Inability to control behaviour/choose between right and wrong
o Problem: no way to determine if accused was able to control behaviour
Durham Rule (Durham v. United States)
o Accused not responsible if behaviour was product of mental disease or defect
Problem: assumes all behaviour of mental ill is cause by mental illness other
factors contributed to behaviour
American Law Institute (ALI) Standard
o Person not responsible for criminal conduct if...
Lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate wrongfulness of conduct or to
conform conduct to requirement of the law (because of mental diseases/defect)
Mental disease/defect does not include abnormality manifested by repeated
criminal or anti-social conduct
o Controversial
Incorporated volitional basis for insanity defense again impossible to assess
“Substantial capacity” differed from absolute requirement of M’Naghten –
perceived to be free pass for mild mental illness
o 1984: Insanity Defense Reform Act (IDRA) following Hinckley case
Removed volitional and substantial aspects of ALI standard largely same as
Focus on knowing right from wrong (i.e. cognitive) because of severe mental illness
Guilty but Mentally Ill
Alternative to NGRI verdict
Holds accused responsible when recognizing mental illness
Typically for those not severely mentally ill
Which Standards are used where?
Most commonly used is M’Naghten Rules (plus or minus various supplements e.g. IRI, GBMI)
o Burden of proof varies from state to state
Next most commonly used is ALI Standard (plus or minus various supplements listed above)
o Burden of proof varies from state to state
Abolished insanity defence, GBMI verdicts allowed Minnesota, Utah
Canada: Not Criminally Responsible by Reason of Mental Disorder (NCRMD)
R v. Swain [1991] 1 S.C.R. 933
o Owen Lloyd Swain attacked wife and 2 children charged with aggravated assault
o After trial, Swain found NGRI
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