Jekyll on Trial: Multiple Personality Disorder and Criminal Law

Overview

The idea that multiple personalities can exist within the same body has long captured the Western imagination. From Three Faces of Eve to Sybil, from Pyscho to Raising Caine, from 60 Minutes to Oprah to One Life to Live, we are captivated by the fate of multiples who, divided against themselves, wreak havoc in the lives of others.

Why do we find multiple personality disorder (MPD) so fascinating? Perhaps because each of us is aware of a dividedness within ourselves: we often ...

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Overview

The idea that multiple personalities can exist within the same body has long captured the Western imagination. From Three Faces of Eve to Sybil, from Pyscho to Raising Caine, from 60 Minutes to Oprah to One Life to Live, we are captivated by the fate of multiples who, divided against themselves, wreak havoc in the lives of others.

Why do we find multiple personality disorder (MPD) so fascinating? Perhaps because each of us is aware of a dividedness within ourselves: we often feel as if we are one person on the job, another with our families, another with our friends and lovers. We may fantasize that these inner discrepancies will someday break free, that within us lie other personalities—genius, lover, criminal—that will take us over and render us strangers to our very selves.

What happens when such a transformation literally occurs, when an alter personality surfaces and commits some heinous deed? What do we do when a Billy Milligan is arrested for a series of rapes and robberies, of which the original personality, Billy, is utterly oblivious? What happens when a Juanita Maxwell, taken over by her alter personality, Wanda, becomes enraged and commits a murder which would horrify Juanita? Who really committed these deeds? Are alter personalities people? Are they centers of consciousness which are akin to people? Mere parts of a deeply divided person? Who should held accountable for the crimes? Which is more appropriate—punishment or treatment?

In Jekyll on Trial, Elyn R. Saks carefully delineates how MPD forces us to re-examine our central concepts of personhood, responsibility, and punishment. Drawing on law, psychiatry, and philosophy, Saks explores the nature of alter personalities, and shows how different conceptualizations bear on criminal responsibility. A wide-ranging and deeply informed book, Jekyll on Trial is must reading for anyone interested in law, criminal justice, psychiatry, or human behavior.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of how our criminal justice system should handle an increasingly common mental illness known as multiple personality disorder."

-Georgetown Law Journal,

"Saks focuses exclusively on multiple personality, a controversial and only recently recognized mental disorder. The philosophical underpinnings that frame the legal questions of culpability, punishment, and competence to stand trial are examined and provide the background for the author's proposals for applicable legal rules. Highly recommended."

-Library Journal,

"A provocative study of a controversial topic. . . . Saks' analyses are always clear and incisive, comprehensible even when their premises and reasoning are unfamiliar and their conclusions surprising."

-Psychiatric Services

Library Journal
Were Dr. Jekyll and Norman Bates criminally responsible for their actions? Yes for Jekyll, no for Bates, according to law professor Saks. Like Daniel Robinson's Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present LJ 11/15/96, Saks's book is a scholarly examination of the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system. Saks focuses exclusively on multiple personality, a controversial and only recently recognized mental disorder. The philosophical underpinnings that frame the legal questions of culpability, punishment, and competence to stand trial are examined and provide the background for the author's proposals for applicable legal rules. A chapter is devoted to related disorders, such as dissociative amnesia, and an appendix examines the technical issues of assessment techniques, empirical studies of differences between multiple personalities, and treatment options. Highly recommended for academic libraries.-Patrick Petit, Catholic Univ. Law Lib., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814797648
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

ELYN R. SAKS is Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and the Behavioral Sciences at the Law School of the University of Southern California.

STEPHEN H. BEHNKE is Director of the Program for the Practice of Scientific Integrity, and Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on How This Book Was Written
1 Introduction 1
2 What We Know about Multiple Personality Disorder 8
3 Is Multiple Personality Disorder "Real"? 21
4 Alter Personalities 39
5 One Crime, One Body, Many Personalities 67
6 A Rule for Nonresponsibllity 106
7 Before Trial and After 141
8 Criminal Responsibility and Other Dissociative Disorders 172
9 Conclusion 192
Appendix 195
Notes 211
Bibliography 227
Table of Cases 253
Index 255
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