PSYCHIATRIC JUSTICE by

PSYCHIATRIC JUSTICE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Is standing trial a right, or an obligation? What constitutes a ""diagnosis"" of a mental condition? What are the practical effects of the ""Durham Rule,"" a 1954 decision regarding criminal responsibility of the so-called mentally ill? For many years Dr. Szasz has been on record as believing that ""mental illness is a myth""; here he gives a full explanation of that opinion, and demonstrates its relationship to the Durham Rule and similar determinations. He outlines the differences between diagnosis and legal strategy; between the power of the individual and the power of the State, and between the capacities of various individuals to perform the social role of a defeniant in a criminal case. By means of extracts from hearing transcripts, including the widely publicized ""sanity hearing"" of former Major General Edwin A. Walker, Dr. Szasz itemizes the problems of social control in a modern society. The final chapter offers suggestions for means of defining and developing ""a functional -- not a mentalistic -- method of ascertaining competence to stand trial."" Summarizing the peculiarities of the laws on which competence hearings are based, Dr. Szasz observes: ""It is difficult to be sure what legislators intend; but it is easy to ascertain what they accomplish...Of one thing we can be certain: Communist or capitalist, the state will not wither away. The individual might. This is why the individual always needed, and still needs, more protection than the state.

Publisher: Macmillan