chapter  15
28 Pages

Mental Disorder and the Law

An important part of any discussion of public policy and mental disorder is mental health law, for it is in the law that a society’s concepts about abnormal behavior are articulated into formal rules and regulations. Those who fail to follow the law place themselves in jeopardy as nonconformists. Thus, the law is society’s vehicle for enforcing conformity. In criminal cases, the intent of the law is to assess blame and punish in relation to the severity of harm and the extent of guilt. It is presumed that the individual who commits a criminal act is not only responsible but also able to understand the nature of the offense. The law consequently serves as a process by which society acts

against those who willingly disrupt the social order and harm the individuals and institutions within it.