The mentally disordered and criminal responsibility – a brief introduction to the law
The three quotations that open this chapter encapsulate the conflicts that can (and often do) occur when disordered states of mind are put before the courts in order to excuse or defend totally or partially from legal punishment. Readers will quickly gather that the problems involved in establishing such connections can lead to serious and sometimes contentious arguments between legal and forensic mental health professionals. I summarise a statement I made in previous editions of this book. The material unfolded here is intended merely to provide a map, similar to those provided by the motoring organisations, namely those giving an outline of the main territory, but devoid of fine detail. For the finer detail the traveller must return to the more detailed directions provided by bodies such as the Ordnance Survey or other modern aids such as the not always reliable – SAT NAV! I trust my readers will have gained a reasonably informed picture of the forensic mental health importance of the various disorders discussed in Chapter 2. It may also be helpful if this present chapter is read in conjunction with the chapter on homicide (Chapter 7).