n South African Journal of Psychiatry - 'My brain made me do it' - how neuroscience may change the insanity defence : editorial

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



The recent history of our non-pathological incapacity defence, in which strange terms such as emotional storm', 'catathymic crisis' and 'disintegrated ego' () have been used to explain why an accused was not responsible for killing an intimate, remains as a testament to these unscientific musings. In every case, the real explanation was that the accused was just very very angry. The Court of Appeal eventually ruled in 185 that, for this defence to succeed, there has to be objective evidence (primarily by the nature of the accused's actions) that he had acted in a state of automatism.

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