[ExI] What is Grace?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Mar 11 10:00:48 UTC 2009

2009/3/11 Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com>:

> And one final point, I don't think committing murder, for example,
> requires a medical condition. Sadistic serial killers maybe so, but
> they are not the entirety of murderers by a long stretch.

At present in most jurisdictions it is only those who commit murder as
a result of what in the DSM-IV is called an Axis 1 disorder that are
found not guilty due to mental illness; for example, someone with
schizophrenia who acts under command hallucinations, which can remove
the patient's sense of free will. Under Axis 2 are the personality
disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, and these are
not normally seen as an excuse, or even mitigating circumstances. This
because these disorders don't respond to treatment in the way Axis 1
disorders do, and the only thing that can stop offending behaviour in
these people is fear of consequences. But if you think about it there
is no fundamental distinction between behaviour due to an Axis 1
disorder, Axis 2 disorder, or no diagnosable disorder at all
(accounting for the great majority of crime, as you suggest), since
all behaviour is due to physical processes in the brain. The
distinction between treatable and not treatable is really just due to
the primitive state of modern psychiatry. If we had full understanding
and control of the brain, it would be clear that every crime is the
result of the person's neurological condition, which could be
rectified by the appropriate treatment. I imagine there would then be
debate about whether it is better to force criminals to have treatment
or to lock them up, but hopefully in those future enlightened times
killing them won't be among the options.

Stathis Papaioannou

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