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Kriminaldårar: Sinnessjuka brottslingar och straffrihet i Sverige, ca 1850–1930
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Criminal Lunatics : Insane Offenders and Exemption from Punishment in Sweden, c. 1850–1930 (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to explain how the management of insane offenders operated and changed in Sweden in the approximate period 1850–1930. The investigation concerns primarily a level of practice, i.e. how insane offenders were treated in courts and insane asylums as a part of the everyday activities of these institutions. Their treatment depended on a double set of social categorizations. In the courts the insane had to be discerned from the sane, and at asylums criminals were distinguished from non-criminal patients. Asylum patient records and other sources are used to examine different aspects of the the trial and post-trial treatment of insane offenders, as well as their social composition as a group.

It is shown that during the period of study, the management of criminal cases of this kind went through important changes. One important change was that the boundaries of criminal responsibility shifted when new kinds of deviant mental conditions came to be taken into consideration as grounds for exemption from punishment. An important observation is that the division of labor in trials, between lawyers and physicians, as well as between medical professionals, was a harmonious one. No conflicts of a more general nature are noticeable in the studied cases. In contemporary discussions criminals were often described as a problematic type of psychiatric patients, characterized by traits making them unsuitable for care in regular asylums. The investigation shows that insane offenders were subject to different kinds of special treatment, regarding e.g. their release from asylum care, attempts to religious and moral reform, and through considerations surrounding security and discipline. However, despite the frequent portrayal of criminal patients as troublesome, most of them remained in regular psychiatric institutions, and there is ample evidence that individual criminals could enjoy the same liberties and privileges as other patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. , 242 p.
Studia historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 245
Keyword [en]
history of psychiatry, history of crime and criminal justice, 19th century, 20th century, Sweden, forensic psychiatry, forensic medicine, criminal lunatics, asylum, patient records
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-173034ISBN: 978-91-554-8357-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-173034DiVA: diva2:516339
Public defence
2012-05-30, Universitetshuset, Sal IX, Övre slottsgatan, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-05-09 Created: 2012-04-18 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved

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