28 Pages

Introduction: Legacy of Change for Mental Health Professionals

ByHoward V. Zonana

From the outset, medical jurisprudence of insanity was one of the important topics at the first scientific meeting of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (which later became the American Psychiatric Association) in 1844. Isaac Ray had published the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity, the fi rst of six editions in 1838 (Ray 1838). Th e fi rst volume of the American Journal of Insanity published a paper by D.C. Coventry MD, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, outlining “the forms in which insanity becomes the subject of legal investigation” as follows (Coventry 1844-5, 134-5):

1. the plea of insanity as a bar to punishment in criminal prosecution; 2. the propriety of confi nement when danger to the individual himself or to

others is apprehended; 3. the capacity and right of an insane person, or one supposed to be insane,

of managing his own aff airs; and 4. the state of mind necessary to constitute a valid will.