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The insanity defense: a tale of two cities
Am J Psychiatry 1983;140:873-874.
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Abstract

The M'Naghten case and the Hinckley matter are in some ways remarkably similar. The attempted assassination of a ruling figure, the public discomfort with the insanity defense, and problems in the application of the legal rules characterized both. An explosion of media criticism occurred in 1843, as it did in 1982. The English ultimately handled the M'Naghten case in a dispassionate manner that determined Anglo-American law for more than a century and provided the basic law by which Hinckley was tried. Fears expressed in 1843 were never realized; the final chapters of the Hinckley case remain to be written.

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