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Murders and MadnessMedicine, Law, and Society in the Fin de Siècle$
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Ruth Harris

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202592

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202592.001.0001

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Legal Procedure and Medical Intervention

Legal Procedure and Medical Intervention

(p.125) 4 Legal Procedure and Medical Intervention
Murders and Madness

Ruth Harris

Oxford University Press

Further study of the documents of pre-trial investigation and courtroom reporting shows that the emergence of criminology was tied very much to the way in which professional men interpreted their interaction with defendants. The defendant's manière de vivre, a technical term used in criminological discussion, was one which was readily accessible to lay observers in constructing a portrait of social dangerousness or, alternatively, confirming the absence of a ‘criminal personality’. French psychiatrists were obliged to present the intricacies of medical argument within a very specific judicial context which they frequently considered to be less than ideal. On the one hand, their aid was increasingly requested by legal personnel investigating criminal trials, particularly when capital crimes were involved. On the other, they remained mere adjuncts in a process governed by complex conventions of interrogation, investigation, and courtroom procedure over which they had little control.

Keywords:   medico-legal, criminology, criminal personality, French psychiatrists, medical examination

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