7
YOUTH AND OTHER EXCUSES

Adolescence and Mental Illness

The punishment of juvenile crime raises the same problems as the punishment of adults said to be mentally ill. For every John Hinckley, who tried to assassinate President Reagan, and was judged not guilty on grounds of mental illness, there are thousands of teen-agers who stomp, stab, and shoot people due to much the same state of mind as Hinckley seems to have been in. In fact, setting aside the supposedly old-fashioned definition of insanity, that is, derangement or incapacity to know what one is doing and its consequences, the mental illness defense as formulated in the 1954Durham decision would seem to apply as well to almost any juvenile crime as it does to crimes committed by mentally ill adults. What I have in mind as mental illness other than derangement (that state succinctly epitomized by Shakespeare as the inability to "tell a hawk from a handsaw") is the entire grab bag of explanations of deviant behavior in terms of emotional disturbance, behavioral disorder, obsessional neuroses, compulsions, phobias, fixations, manic depression, and other such technical names for socially unacceptable patterns of conduct. 1 The point I want to make is that whatever measure of criminal responsibility we find it reasonable to apply to adults said

-101-

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Lawless Mind - Vol. 19
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Two Concepts of Cause 1
  • 2 - Agency and Responsibility 11
  • 3 - Where the Buck Stops and Why 41
  • 4 - Extra Credit and Discredit 57
  • 5 - Healing Sick Souls 69
  • 6 - The Myth of Mental Science 89
  • 7 - Youth and Other Excuses 101
  • 8 Wittgenstein's Challenge 115
  • 9 - The Challenge of Artificial Intelligence 131
  • 10 - Keeping Mind and Body Together 149
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 197
  • Index 203
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