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Dazzi, S. (2018). Disordered Personalities and Crime: An Analysis of the History of Moral Insanity, by David W. Jones, Routledge, New York, 2016, 295 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(1):169-173.

(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(1):169-173

Disordered Personalities and Crime: An Analysis of the History of Moral Insanity, by David W. Jones, Routledge, New York, 2016, 295 pp.

Review by:
Sergio Dazzi, M.D.

I highly recommend this book for a number of reasons. More than a review of ideas spanning a couple of centuries, it is an essay on the history of ideas and how the conceptualization on deviant behavior has been influenced by (albeit sometimes neglected) different disciplines, while at the same time directly influencing them. David W. Jones, a British Reader in Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London, dares to develop the subject from a wide intellectual perspective, quite distinct from the prevailing current literature which the readers of this Journal are more familiar with, and which gives preminence to clinical and basic research. The object, to put it simply, is an inquiry on “moral insanity,” a term we owe to J. Prichard in 1835 defining “a form of mental derangement” manifested in “the state of feelings, temper or habits.” Moral and active principles of the mind are “perverted and depraved,” while the “power of self governement” is lost and the individual becomes incapable “of conducting himself decently and with propriety in the business of life.” In other terms the book is an excursus on the history of antisociality and psychopathy, whether it be the focus inside the brain, the mind, or a social dimension.

We might say that this book is about the history of social culture, not only about the history of medicine that, incidentally, is dealt with in the broader landscape of the history of ideas.

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