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Portrait of a Kleptomaniac (1822) by  Théodore Géricault
Portrait of a Kleptomaniac (1822) by Théodore Géricault

"There is neither crime nor misdemeanor, if the accused was in a state of dementia at the time of the act, or if he has been constrained by a force which he could not resist."--Napoleonic Code

There is no great genius without some touch of madness. -- Seneca, Aristotle

"It was from a youthful reverie filled with speculations of this sort that I arose one afternoon in the winter of 1900-1901 , when to the state psychopathic institution in which I served as an interne was brought the man whose case has ever since haunted me so unceasingly."--"Beyond the Wall of Sleep" (1919) H. P. Lovecraft

They're coming to take me away,
Haha, they're coming to take me away,
Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha,
To the funny farm

--"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" (1966)

Insane in the membrane
Insane in the brain

--"Insane in the Brain" (1993)

John Barclay who was executed at Glasgow in 1833, was also of unsound mind. He was familiarly known as " Daft Jack." The clergyman of the parish had always regarded him as imbecile. He thought that a watch was a living animal; and that there was no distinction between killing an ox and killing a man. Yet, although Barclay's weakness of mind was recognised both by the judge and by the jury, who, on that ground recommended him to mercy, still he was condemned and executed on the plea, forsooth, that " he knew right from wrong."--On Insanity, and the Criminal Responsibility of the Insane (1866) by Thomas More Madden

 This page Insanity is part of psychopathology series. Illustration: the head of Elagabalus, one of the five "mad emperors" of ancient Rome
This page Insanity is part of psychopathology series.
Illustration: the head of Elagabalus, one of the five "mad emperors" of ancient Rome

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Insanity, madness, lunacy, and craziness are behaviors performed by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity can manifest as violations of societal norms, including a person or persons becoming a danger to themselves or to other people. Conceptually, mental insanity also is associated with the biological phenomenon of contagion (that mental illness is infectious) as in the case of copycat suicides. In contemporary usage, the term insanity is an informal, un-scientific term denoting "mental instability"; thus, the term insanity defense is the legal definition of mental instability. In medicine, the general term psychosis is used to include the presence of delusions and/or hallucinations in a patient; and psychiatric illness is "psychopathology", not mental insanity.

In English, the word "sane" derives from the Latin adjective sanus, meaning "healthy". Juvenal's phrase mens sana in corpore sano is often translated to mean a "healthy mind in a healthy body". From this perspective, insanity can be considered as poor health of the mind, not necessarily of the brain as an organ (although that can affect mental health), but rather refers to defective function of mental processes such as reasoning. Another Latin phrase related to our current concept of sanity is compos mentis ("sound of mind"), and a euphemistic term for insanity is non compos mentis. In law, mens rea means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act (actus reus) was committed.

A more informal use of the term insanity is to denote something or someone considered highly unique, passionate or extreme, including in a positive sense. The term may also be used as an attempt to discredit or criticize particular ideas, beliefs, principles, desires, personal feelings, attitudes, or their proponents, such as in politics and religion.

Insanity is no longer considered a medical diagnosis but is a legal term in the United States, stemming from its original use in common law. The disorders formerly encompassed by the term covered a wide range of mental disorders now diagnosed as bipolar disorder, organic brain syndromes, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Insanity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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