Emergent Authority and Expert Knowledge: Psychiatry and Criminal Responsibility in the UK
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 25-36, 2014
41 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 14, 2016
In the UK context, the rise of the discipline and practice of forensic psychiatry is intimately connected with the concurrent development of principles and practices relating to criminal responsibility. In this article, we seek to chart the relationship between psychiatry and the principles and practices of criminal responsibility in the UK over the early modern, modern and late modern periods. With a focus on claims about authority and expert knowledge around criminal responsibility, we suggest that these claims have been in a state of perpetual negotiation and that, as a result, claims to authority over and knowledge about criminal non-responsibility on the part of psychiatrists and psychiatry are most accurately understood as emergent and contingent. The apparent formalism of legal discourse has tended to conceal the extent to which legal policy has been preoccupied with maintaining the primacy of lay judgments in criminal processes of evaluation and adjudication. While this policy has been somewhat successful in the context of the trial – particularly the murder trial – it has been undermined by administrative procedures surrounding the trial, including those that substitute treatment for punishment without, or in spite of, a formal determination of criminal responsibility.
Keywords: Criminal Responsibility, 'Manifest Madness', Expert Knowledge, M'Naghten Rules
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation