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The Oxford History of the Laws of EnglandVolume XIII: 1820–1914 Fields of Development$
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William Cornish, J Stuart Anderson, Ray Cocks, Michael Lobban, Patrick Polden, and Keith Smith

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239757.001.0001

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Insanity and Mental Deficiency

Insanity and Mental Deficiency

(p.823) VI Insanity and Mental Deficiency
The Oxford History of the Laws of England

William Cornish

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses law covering the mentally disturbed or deficient in the 19th century. The laws affecting those mentally incapacitated became bulky during this period, and much of its flesh had to do with administering the regimes under which they would be kept. Lawyers, medical personnel, managers of institutions, and others, needed instruction on their legal powers and responsibilities, as is evidenced by the considerable growth in legal texts on the subject. Of all the issues, the most basic was institutional restraint, since it involved such a gross infraction of personal freedom. With the obviously deranged, it was not difficult to conclude that any refusal by them to be locked away would have to be overridden; but in less evident cases, the question of involuntary detention could be very difficult.

Keywords:   English law, mental health, social policy, mentally disturbed, detention

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