Nobody's Child - A Tragedy, a Trial, and a History of the Insanity Defense

Author(s): Susan Nordin Vinocour

Politics and Society

A powerful and humane exploration of the history of the "insanity defense," through the story of one poignant case. When a three-year-old child was found with a head wound and other injuries, it looked like an open-and-shut case of second-degree murder. Psychologist and attorney Susan Vinocour agreed to evaluate the defendant, the child's mentally ill and impoverished grandmother, to determine whether she was competent to stand trial. Even if she had caused the child's death, had she realized at the time that her actions were wrong or was she legally "insane"? What followed was anything but an open-and-shut case. Nobody's Child traces the legal definition of "insanity" back to its inception in Victorian Britain nearly two hundred years ago, from when our understanding of the human mind was in its infancy, to today, when questions of race, class, and ability so often determine who is legally "insane" and who is criminally guilty. Vinocour explains how "competency" and "insanity" are creatures of a legal system, not of psychiatric reality, and how, in criminal law, the insanity defense has too often been a luxury of the rich and white.

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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780393651928
  • : W. W. Norton & Company Limited
  • : W. W. Norton & Company Limited
  • : March 2020
  • : 3 Centimeters X 16 Centimeters X 23.9 Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Susan Nordin Vinocour
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 352