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Madness and Crime

A Non-Western Historical Perspective

Haldipur, C.V. MRC Psych

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 9 - p 740–741
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000951
Brief Report

It is generally acknowledged that the insanity defense has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy. There are references to the insanity defense in the works of Plato and Homer. Little, though, is known about how non-Western cultures dealt with the insane who commit crimes. This article focuses on one non-Western culture: ancient India. The author refers to extant medical texts and Sanskrit literature to argue that the notion that the insane are not responsible for criminal acts was current during that epoch.

Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.

Send reprint requests to C.V. Haldipur, MRC Psych, Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical University, 750 E Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13210. E-mail:

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