Myths, realities, and the political world: the anthropology of insanity defense attitudes.
M. L. Perlin,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
24(1): 5-26, 1996.
The author presents the case that society's efforts to understand the insanity defense and
insanity-pleading defendants are doomed to intellectual, moral, and political gridlock unless we are
willing to take a fresh look at the doctrine through a series of filters-empirical research, scientific
discovery, moral philosophy, cognitive and moral psychology, and sociology-in an effort to confront
the single most important (but rarely asked) question: why do we feel the way we do about "these
people" (insanity pleaders)? He examines this question finally through a model of structural
anthropology and concludes that until we come to grips with the extent to which ours is a "culture
of punishment," we can make no headway in solving the insanity defense dilemma. [References: