1st Edition

Disordered Personalities and Crime An analysis of the history of moral insanity

By David Jones Copyright 2016
    308 Pages
    by Routledge

    308 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    Introduction: Excavating Moral Insanity  1. Informal Insanity in the 18th Century Court  2. The Medical Discourse of 'moral insanity'  3. The Rise of Psychiatry in the post-M'Naghten Years  4. Culture and Moral Insanity: Selfhood and Social Degeneration  5. Moral Imbecility: Feeblemindedness and the road to eugenics  6. Psychopathy in the US: Psychiatry, Psycholanalysis and Sexual Selves  7. Social Formulations of Psychopathy: The Therapeutic Community  8. DSM and the Proliferation of Personality Disorders  9. Shifting Grounds: The Mass Media and the Insanity Defence  10. Concluding Discussion: The Contemporary Debates: Policy, Theory and Treatment. 


    David W. Jones is Reader in Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London and is the author of Understanding Criminal Behaviour: Psychosocial Approaches to Criminality (Willan, 2008) and, on mental illness, Myths, Madness and the Family (Palgrave, 2002).

    ‘This thoughtful, scholarly and readable work by David Jones explores the concepts of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy, from their roots in the nineteenth century notion of "moral insanity" to the present day. His thesis, which is closely argued, is that ASPD is a construction of ideas located between different worlds: especially the social, the cultural and the psychological. Jones makes a clear case that the current focus on the neurophysiological and neuroanatomical accounts of ASPD miss the social dimension and that the social dimension is crucial to understanding the problems of those with ASPD, and the development of possible interventions. This is a highly readable and thought-provoking book and I recommend it to anyone working in the field of ASPD and the psychology of crime.’ - Gwen Adshead, currently Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at Ravenswood House, Medium Secure Unit and formerly Broadmoor High Security Hospital, UK

    'This is a scholarly, instructive and insightful book. It is a fascinating read and a must for criminal justice professionals, particularly those working in clinical, criminal and legal contexts.' - Monica Lloyd, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK. Formerly Forensic Psychologist in the Prison Service, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and National Offender Management Service.

    ‘The "psychopath" haunts western culture. But does this figure really exist? David Jones's richly-documented history strikes a welcome sceptical note. Tracing the evolution of psychopathy from early nineteenth-century "moral insanity" through to present-day "antisocial personality disorder", Jones dissects the political and cultural forces shaping these diagnostic categories. An important and provocative book which deserves to be widely read and discussed.’ - Barbara Gold Taylor, Professor of Humanities, Queen Mary University of London, UK

    ‘.. the book provides a detail-filled chronological overview of the changing characterizations of the "morally insane", "psychopath", or person exhibiting "antisocial personality disorder"... each chapter is thus a stunning journey into a lost world of human artefacts woven into an organic narrative which the author's analytical skills and insights magically bring to life.

    Thus, although other books have attempted to review literature on assessment and treatment of deviance in the criminal domain, Jones's work is a must read for its breadth of coverage and keen critical exploration of known facts and viewpoints.

    In sum, Disordered personalities and crime: An analysis of the history of moral insanity can help readers of all persuasions to understand the challenges connected with assessment and understanding of individuals who have committed severe crimes.’— Maura Pilotti, Ashford University, Metapsychology Online Reviews

    'Jones' thought-provoking book will certainly be of use and interest to forensic psychologists and psychiatrists, historians of the behavioural and medical sciences, lawyers, and those working in correctional settings. This volume will also appeal to those interested in following media descriptions of recent cases of individuals with psychological disorders who have committed heinous crimes but who have been determined not to be guilty because of their psychological condition. ' - Victor Colotla, Provincial government of British Columbia, Canada, PsycCritiques

    ‘David Jones has produced a concise, engaging and readable treatise. As a clinician, I found it to be interesting and informative, especially the chapter on insanity in the eighteenth century court. The book will be of value mainly to forensic psychiatrists and clinical psychologists and to historians of psychiatry, but will also be on interest to psychiatrists in training.’ -John Callender – History of Psychiatry 27 (3)

    'This is a remarkable and thought-provoking book, readable not only for those working in the field of forensic psychiatry/psychology, but also for everyone interested in the history of psychiatry and psychiatric/psychological assessment, and how society has dealt with criminal behavior related to mental disorders.' - Marianne Nygren - Rorschachiana 38

    "I highly recommend this book for a number of reasons. More than a review of ideas spanning a couple of centuries, it is an essay on the history of ideas and how the conceptualization on deviant behaviour has been influenced by (albeit neglected) different disciplines, while at the same time directly influencing them. David W Jones . . . dares to develop the subject from a wide intellectual perspective, quite distinct from the prevailing current literature…

    The entire book is a remarkable intellectual effort in applying the methodology provided by history to understand moral insanity . . . if we are involved with the manifestations of deep seeded aggressivity, loss of moral conscience, development of social deviancy, and the psychological structure of primitive personality disorders, the rigour and richness of this book will provide us with more tools for our work and thinking." - Sergio Dazzi, Personality Disorders Lab, Psychodynamic Psychiatry