Calling Thomas Szasz

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Usually, when the chief suspect in an attempted homicide says things like "I stabbed her," her case is as good as dead. But a District Court judge in Montana has just thrown out several such damning statements, on the grounds that the stabber made them after requesting her lawyer but without said lawyer's presence.

An unpleasant but necessary decision protecting a suspect's civil liberties? Well, no: Police had clearly informed her of her Miranda rights, and the woman by all appearances made her subsequent statements without any prompting from the cops.

So what was the problem? Turns out the suspect has "multiple personality disorder." Her lawyer argued that "It is inconceivable that one personality could relinquish the right to have an attorney present before questioning to the detriment of other personalities," and the judge bought it.

This may be a first. Courts have long allowed criminals to excuse their behavior on the grounds that they are insane. But how many have issued rulings that only make sense if the criminal's delusions are literally true?

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  1. There was an episode of Matlock with more or less this same premise…one personality killed a man, and the other denied it on the stand. But old Andy wasn’t fulled, and tricked the wicked personality into giving up the game.

  2. Roses are red,
    violets are blue,
    I have MPD,
    and so do I.

  3. The Judge has been watching too many 1970s Movies of the Week. People who have MPD don’t have a memory deficit — they CAN remember what happens to them, no matter the “personality” that faces the world at any particular point. I know several people with MPD. The disorder involves a lack of integration in one’s approach to the world: They will act like a child in one situation, a tough-gal in another, an artist in the next — each stance being triggered by a situation; it is a person’s helplessness before the trigger that makes them ill. At any rate, MPD is NOT a memory problem, and the judge is an idiot who managed to slander an entire class of people who are already misunderstood more than enough, thank you very much.

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