Disordered Personalities and Crime seeks to better understand how we respond to those individuals who have been labelled at various points in time as ‘morally insane’, ‘psychopathic’ or ‘personality disordered’. Individuals whose behaviour is consistent with these diagnoses present challenges to both the criminal justice system and mental health systems, because the people who come to have such diagnoses seem to have a rational and realistic understanding of the world around them but they can behave in ways that suggest they have little understanding of the meaning or consequences of their actions.

This book argues that an analysis of the history of these diagnoses will help to provide a better understanding of contemporary dilemmas. These are categories that have been not only shaped by the needs of criminal justice and the claims of expertise by professionals, but also the fears, anxieties and demands of the wider public. In this book, David W. Jones demonstrates us how important these diagnoses have been to the history of psychiatry in its claims for professional expertise, and also sheds light on the evolution of the insanity defence and helps explain why it remains a problematic and controversial issue even today.

This book will be key reading for students, researchers and academics who are interested in crime and its relationship to mental disorder and also for those interested in psychiatry and abnormal psychology.

chapter |19 pages


Excavating moral insanity

chapter Chapter 1|27 pages

Informal insanity in the eighteenth-century court

chapter Chapter 2|30 pages

The medical discourse of ‘moral insanity’

chapter Chapter 3|20 pages

The rise of psychiatry in the post-M'Naghten years

chapter Chapter 4|21 pages

Culture and moral insanity

Selfhood and social degeneration

chapter Chapter 5|26 pages

Moral imbecility

Feeblemindedness and the road to eugenics

chapter Chapter 6|17 pages

Psychopathy in the US

Psychiatry, psychoanalysis and sexual selves

chapter Chapter 8|22 pages

DSM and the proliferation of personality disorders

chapter Chapter 9|21 pages

Shifting grounds

The mass media and the insanity defence

chapter Chapter 10|17 pages

Concluding discussion

The contemporary debates: policy, theory and treatment