Where to Draw the Line?
There are many people with personalitydisorders and other illnesses which affect our mental and behavioralpatterns. By many laws, people who suffer from any of these areconsidered challenged by their problems and are to be understood andsupported by other people, in order to be treated.
This leads us to jurisdiction. Namely,in courts, people can defend themselves, or be defended, by claimingthat they are insane and not aware of their criminal actions nor theconsequences of them. In order for one to be accepted as insane andgranted a different treatment regarding the conviction itself, he/shehas to be proven unable to differ right from wrong and/or to beunaware of the things he/she has done, acting on “irresistibleimpulse”. Thus, many can play on this card once they have no otheroptions. Still, there are people who are really jeopardized byinsanity or some kind of a behavioral disorder and their actions canbe influenced by their conditions.
For these people, the verdict isusually “guilty, but mentally ill”. However, here, we are facinga paradox, or an oxymoron of sorts. Namely, if mentally ill peoplecannot be convicted of a crime since they are not responsible forwhat they do on impulse, they cannot be guilty at all. This leads usto many ambivalent attitudes towards the topic. Moreover, it makes uswonder if there is a mental problem at which we can draw a line,saying that that specific problem is the border of responsibility.
Some mentally ill people are perfectlycapable of comprehending reality. Yet, they have committed crimes.Therefore, we are to decide whether they should be convicted orconsidered guilty but mentally ill. Also, if we accept this attitudewe do not know whether depressed, bipolar or other people withpersonality issues can be considered guilty for their wrongdoings oraffected by the irresistible impulses they themselves feel.
Personality Disorder Characteristics
Basically, we perceive people withpersonality disorders as socially maladjusted individuals, whosebehavioral problems started appearing usually in their adolescenceperiods. They have serious disturbances in their behavioral patternsand they are incapable of functioning normally within the social areaand their own selves.
There are many different kinds ofbehavioral disorders and some of these can be more serious than theothers. Therefore, when it comes to jurisdiction and verdicts, theproblems of the suspects need to be further looked into since notevery person with personality disorder is the same.