Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flawed reasoning

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
There is a flaw in John Roswell’s reasoning when he writes (Jan. 17), “I believe that most people who have experienced psychosis would agree with me that people should be held responsible for their criminal acts, no matter what their state of mind was when they committed the crime.”

It is the accused who ultimately determines whether or not to proceed with a defence of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. Therefore, if the accused, once found fit to stand trial, believes that psychosis, for example, is the reason they should be found not criminally responsible, they will instruct their defence counsel to present this argument in court.

With regard to better access to mental health services, many people experiencing psychosis have lost contact with reality to such an extent that they do not believe they are ill. Therefore, they do not seek treatment for their mental disorder, despite the efforts of family and friends to assist them. This is one reason why the Nova Scotia legislature passed the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act in December 2005.

Stephen W. Ayer, Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

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