PSYCHIATRY & CRIME

PSYCHIATRY & CRIME

Crime and psychiatry have known each other for a long time. Throughout history there have been individuals who have committed heinous crimes and in retrospect it seems that they were mentally unstable. The fact is that a “normal” or mentally sound person would never act so inhumane towards someone else. The only plausible explanation, therefore, is that the perpetrator is mentally unsound.

The fact of the matter is that only 1% of cases in the United States are filed under “criminally insane” (the McNaughten rule) and the individuals under this small percentage still have a slim chance of making it out unscathed because of this clause. The law has specific rules to determine whether a person should be acquitted or not based on lengthy psychiatric studies conducted over the course of the pending case. A high-profile case that had everyone’s attention was when actress Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting and said that she was “not in her right mind”. Being a repeated offender, the high-end store she was stealing from finally reported her to the police. It was determined that she was a “kleptomaniac” – an individual with a disease to rob and regret it later. However, even she was not let off and was still found guilty by a court.

Let’s look at some other high-profile criminal cases that involve possible mental disorders:

The Esposito Brothers

Image Source: pinterest.com
Image Source: pinterest.com

Before the rule that one could file stating that they were not in their right mind when committing the crime, the Esposito Brothers were a high profile case that happened in the 1940s. They tried to rob money and committed murders as well, due to which they were sentenced to die. However, during the case they acted outrageously in court, depicting behavior that would now be considered as Schizophrenic, but the judge and jury wouldn’t buy it and they were ultimately sent to the electric chair for their final judgment.

Steven Steinberg

Image Source: epubbud.com
Image Source: epubbud.com

Before you gawk, no it is not the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg we are talking about. It is a man we are talking about with no celebrity connections. The crazy story is one from the 1980s where a man by the name of Steven Steinberg stabbed his wife to death, called the police himself and later said it was an attempted robbery. His defense was that he suffered from sleepwalking and was again, “not in his right mind” when the crime happened. Unlike the Esposito brothers, he was acquitted by the jury and set free.

Andrew Goldstein

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk
Image Source: dailymail.co.uk

We might all remember this particular case as it occurred within most of our lifetimes – that of a schizophrenic man who pushed a young lady in front of an oncoming train for no apparent reason. The perpetrator was Andrew Goldstein, who was a known face in the local mental asylum as he had been there more than a dozen times and had even asked to be permanently housed there, though he was turned down. It is sad, because the life of an innocent victim could have been spared had medical aid been given to this man.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Image Source: biography.com
Image Source: biography.com

This is the serial killer accused of around 15 murders that included rape, sodomy, necrophilia, cannibalism and other distorted human behavior including storing body parts of his victims in the freezer for “later consumption”. The man was clearly out of his mind and even stated that he didn’t remember committing some of the murders and showed little to no emotion during the trial. His defense was that he was criminally insane, that though it was the truth, it was still not enough to have the jury find him guilty and sentence him to as many life terms as the murders he committed.

Ed Gein

Image Source: wikipedia.org
Image Source: wikipedia.org

The man who influenced the character Buffalo Bill in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was a criminal in real life who went by the name of Ed Gein. The crimes he committed are so graphic that they cannot be listed here. But there is no doubt that he was more than just a little kooky. He was charged with all the murders he committed and was sentenced to live the rest of his days in a mental hospital, the right place he should have been in all along. You can read all about him and the crimes he committed HERE. He also inspired works by Rob Zombie and was the subject in Mudvayne’s “Nothing To Gein” track.

Learn more about the criminally insane by reading this article by Litverse.

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