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Lasswell, H.D. (1956). The Guilty Mind; Psychiatry and the Law of Homicide: By John Biggs, Jr. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1955. 236 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 25:426-429.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:426-429

The Guilty Mind; Psychiatry and the Law of Homicide: By John Biggs, Jr. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1955. 236 pp.

Review by:
Harold D. Lasswell

Judge Biggs is especially well known in psychiatric circles because of his initiative in seeking to supersede the M'Naghten Rules in the application of criminal justice. He is the first jurist to deliver the Isaac Ray Lectures and richly deserves the distinction.

Possibly the most rewarding feature of the account of legal history given in the Lectures is the demonstration that 'knowledge of good and evil' is a very old test of responsibility. In 1953 the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment in its report to the Crown seemed to suggest that the test was originated in 1824 by Hawkins in his Pleas to the Crown. Judge Biggs corrects this impression, and also supplies us with a summary of the salient factors in the famous M'Naghten case, relying in part upon the forthcoming book of Dr. Bernard L. Diamond of San Francisco. M'Naghten thought he was shooting the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, though his victim proved to be Peel's private secretary. Competent psychiatric opinion held M'Naghten to be ill. However, the assassination of a member of the ruling class is rarely viewed with equanimity by the surviving targets, especially when the political situation is critical. Queen Victoria was not alone in feeling outraged by the seeming leniency of the judiciary; the famous Rules appear to have been formulated by the Lords with an eye to political expediency.

Judge Biggs provides a particularly lucid account of the Durham Case, which came before the U. S.

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