Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain. In the 1800’s there was a lot of debate and controversy surrounding the use of an insanity plea in criminal cases. In this books, the author starts by presenting and overview of the points of controversy and introduces the reader to the major players in the medical and legal communities during this time. The bulk of the book is case studies of individuals whose crimes brought into play the issue of insanity. Finally, the author includes an overview of the various changes in the law and their impact on the criminal cases of those using the insanity plea.
I found the stories in this books fascinating. The thinking within the legal and medical communities during this time period was going through a lot of changes and the two sides often clashed in trying to achieve their goals. Public pressure also seemed to play a significant role in the outcome of some of the cases presented. In some cases, the outcome seems obvious until the nuance of the law is applied. Some attempts to improve the situation ended up only making things worse. I think anyone with an interest in legal history or the history of psychology will find this book really interesting as it gives insight to how the legal system got to where it is today.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 4 stars!!