Boundary Disputes: Criminal Justice and Psychiatry in Germany, 1760–1850




Abstract: This article investigates the boundary dispute between jurists and the new experts of the developing field of psychiatry over the definition of a criminal's soundness of mind. The latter tried to extend their acknowledged competence for the physiological side of the mutual relationship between body and soul into the realm of emotional and behavioral disturbances which resulted in criminal acts, thereby extending the concept of insanity to all realms of human subjectivity. The psychiatric models of argumentation and persuasion used in court were analysed as well as the reaction of the jurists, who did not accept the undermining of their competence without protest. This paper shows, however, that the psychiatrists’ pattern of thought gradually gained acceptance among legal experts.