American Forensic Psychiatry Begins

Kenneth J. Weiss

in The Evolution of Forensic Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2015 | ISBN: 9780199393435
Published online July 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190249694 | DOI:
American Forensic Psychiatry Begins

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American forensic psychiatry began with early nineteenth century interest in medical jurisprudence. When organized psychiatry started in 1844, applications of the new field of medicine to the law made their way into the literature. Psychiatry would be called on to help courts answer questions about criminal responsibility, dangerousness, and various capacities required of citizens. Medical jurisprudence, although largely imported from Britain and the European Continent, developed its own standards. Early practitioners expressed concern about the reliability and honesty of expert testimony. Controversies at that time included the legal test for insanity in criminal cases, whether the test should include irresistible impulses, and whether experts could distinguish evil from sickness. In the civil domain, forensic psychiatry was most concerned with will contests (testamentary capacity) and the rights of individuals to have adjudicated commitment proceedings. Overall, there is much continuity between nineteenth-century concerns and how forensic psychiatry is practiced today.

Chapter.  8805 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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