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Mental Disorder and Responsibility

Responsibility in the legal sense means the liability of a person for his acts or commissions, and if these are against the law, the liability to be punished for them.
  • Civil Responsibility
    Testamentary capacity is the mental ability of a person to make a valid will.
    To be valid,
    1. A written and properly signed and witnessed document must exist.
    2. The person should have a sound disposing mind
  • Evidence
    insane person can give evidence during lucid interval.     
  • Criminal Responsibillity
    The law presumes that for every criminal act, there must be a criminal intent or mind i.e., MENS REA (mens = mind Area = criminal) motivating it.
Difference between Real and Feigned insanity:
Trait Real insanity Feigned insanity
Onset Gradual Sudden
Motive Absent Present
Predisposing factors
Present. E.g. sudden monetary loss, grief absent
Signs and symptoms Uniform and present whether the patient is being observed or not Present only when conscious or being observed
Facial expressions
Peculiar. E.g. vacant or fixed look No peculiarity
Insomnia Present Cannot persist
Patient can stand exertion of fatigue, hunger or sleep Breaks down with exertion
Habits Dirty and filthy Not dirty and filthy
Skin and lips Dry, harsh Normal
Examination Doesn’t mind frequent examination Resents from fear of detection
  1. Me Naughten’s Rule
    1. Tests for judging criminal responsibili84 IPC (Mc Naughten’s rule): this rule was let down after the Mc Naughten trial in 1843.
    2. The right or wrong test * / the legal test an accused person is not criminally responsible if it is proved that at the time of committing the crime he was suffering from such a defect of reason or from disease of mind that he did not know the nature and the quality of act he was doing.
    3. This legal test has been accepted in India as the law of criminal responsibilities under sec 84 IPC.
    4. Defect of the rule: only intellectual factors are considered but emotions, delusions and control of impulses is ignored.
  2. Durham’s rule
  3. Curren’s rule
  4. The irresistible impulse test
  5. The American law institute test

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