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Copyright (c) 2014 University of Alabama
Law & Psychology Review

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE: RATIONALITY, INSANITY, AND THE INSANITY DEFENSE: REFLECTIONS ON THE LIMITS OF REASON

2014 - 2015

Law and Psychology Review

39 Law & Psychol. Rev. 161

Author

THEODORE Y. BLUMOFF *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE: FIRST PRINCIPLES AND DIRECTION

Quantum superposition tells us that one particle can be in multiple states at the same time, but that one cannot measure the whole state of the system without collapsing the superposition into a single one of those states. 2 Insanity in some forms can present itself like that. If you push the individual in her full-blown paranoid delusional state (usually, the only kind there is), you are apt to find her in a state of utter collapse. When the spectator views the world historically, by focusing on the interdependence of cognition and affect prior to the descent, as opposed to the scattered non-rational thinking thereafter, he witnesses a devastating incident. The instantiation of unbearable helplessness that the collapse produces--especially for those who witness it in a close and very personal way--is unimaginable and perhaps never fully explicable. Sometimes, there are moments of calmness--the occasional loving rush that follows a wonderful shared moment or two together, the sharing of a good movie or book: they remain immeasurable. But one can, in an instant, stand with one's jaws suddenly dropping and breathing significantly shallower than before: the joyful moment has passed. Her threats, pain, and demons are back; they can always come back. Firsthand observers of these phenomena are themselves dazed and disordered by the concomitant cognitive and affective disintegration. And then she commits a crime, and all the while the law seeks conformity, even from individuals so afflicted. It's an absurd demand foundering on ...
 
 
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