Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thought Problem

Suppose someone has a serious mental illness, and as a direct result of his illness he kills someone. (If you don't believe this really happens, and can't take my word that it does, just try to suspend your disbelief.) He is judged by the legal system to have no responsibility for the crime, and is sent to a hospital for treatment. Eventually he returns, more or less, to sanity. Now-- should society, or the victim's family, expect or demand some sort of apology from him?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Norm said...

It would certainly reflect a return to society as well as sanity. Demand? No. Expect? Hard to say. Appreciate? Yes.

10/21/06, 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Johanna said...

If random dude and I are driving in our cars, and he hits a deer and that causes him to swerve and crash into my car and as a result my passenger, who is someone I care about a lot, dies, I'm still gonna be upset and pissed even though I know and the legal system knows that it's not his *fault*. I'd think of him as a total jerk if he didn't acknowledge that I've lost someone and that he accidentally but directly played a role in it. I *would* expect him to communicate that he feels lousy about that, and acknowledge that while it's probably affected him in some awful ways, it's not just about him here.

So, given a similar situation where deer=mental illness, I would still expect it for the individual/family. Society? not so much. The legal system stood as a proxy for that, didn't it? And said, not your fault?

10/21/06, 1:22 PM  
Blogger Katinka said...

I agree with the above comments...

Whilst you cannot demand that someone express sorrow for having caused another's death (whether through accident, illness or deliberate intent) I think that there is that hope there.

That said, at a societal level I believe the empahasis should be on encouraging closure and healing...and as such, the option for the perpetrator to return and express his/her remorse should be available and promoted.

In traditional PNG villages, they do this really well. There, it is customary for both families exchange gifts to demonstrate forgiveness and to assist healing of relationships within the community. This is in recognition of the fact that we have an individual as well as a corporate self.

However, in our Western society forgiveness and repentence seems like such alien concepts, and I wonder how many victim's families would actually be open to having the perpetrator approach them with an apology?

10/22/06, 3:51 PM  
Anonymous girltuesday said...

i concur with norm. an apology/acknowledgement of the loss created by the individual’s actions would be appreciated. at least here in smallish state, the legal standard for the insanity defense is, in part, that the individual is “not criminally responsible,” if “at the time of the criminal conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, [he or she] lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the criminal conduct.” but what is he saying sorry for? i am sorry my schizophrenic psychosis led me to erroneous believe your head was a loaf of bread, which God directed me to cut?

10/23/06, 9:57 AM  
Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

Of course, an apology, unless freely given and sincerely felt, really doesn't mean a damn thing.

10/23/06, 3:00 PM  

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