Forensic Psychology

Mental Illness and the Law

What is the relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior?

The relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior is a complicated one. Can mentally ill people be judged by the same standards as the rest of the population? Is it fair to punish someone who is incapable of rational thought the same way as someone who makes a conscious and rational decision to perform a criminal act? On the other hand, should we excuse people from accountability just because they are psychologically disturbed? How do we balance the right of the individual for fair treatment with the right of society for protection from antisocial acts? The legal system addresses these philosophical questions through the concepts of competence, culpability, and mitigating factors.


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