Justice to Psychopath: Punishment or Therapy?

Author: Sumit Ghai pursuing BBA LLB (H) from The Northcap University, Gurugram, Haryana.

“The course of justice often prevents it” -Edward Counsel

“The above quote makes one comprehend the importance of the course taken towards delivering justice. Should justice be a fixed punishment for all? Or should it really be subjective to suit each case in an appropriate manner to fully deliver what’s right, what’s honoured- in all its glory, that is true justice.”


Psychopath, basically in psychology a few terms stirs up the confusion one of those terms is ‘Psychopath’. Though it’s commonly used to describe someone who is suffering from mental illness, psychopath doesn’t have any official diagnosis.

According to the Doctors the true definition of Psychopath in psychiatry is ‘Antisocial Personal Disorder (ASPD)’. Antisocial Personal Disorder (ASPD) describes an individual, a person who shows patterns of manipulation and violation to others. Most of the people might assume that the word ‘Anti-social’ describes that a person who is reserved, a loner, keeps to himself, etc. However this is not the actual case in ASPD, whereas the actual case in ASPD when we say ‘anti-social’ it means a person who goes against society, rules and other behaviors.

Common signs of this disorder are:

Since this disorder doesn’t have any diagnosis, but has a few signs by which we can recognize that the person is suffering from this problem, those are as follows:

Ø socially irresponsible behavior

Ø disregarding or violating the rights of others

Ø inability to distinguish between right and wrong

Ø difficulty with showing remorse or empathy

Ø tendency to lie often

Ø manipulating and hurting others

Ø recurring problems with the law

Ø general disregard towards safety and responsibility

So now here I’ll be talking about the motive of this article i.e. ‘JUSTICE TO PSYCHOPATH- Punishment or Therapy’

"Ignorance of law is no excuse", is the most well-known rule in statute, which implies that each resident is bound to and dared to know the tradition that must be adhered to. Psychiatry and law both arrangement with the human conduct, however from alternate points of view. While psychiatry manages human conduct, law manages the control of the human conduct.

If a person commits a crime the most important aspects are acknowledged by the law experts i.e.,

i. The person who commited this unlawful act had an intention to do so (actus reus)

ii. The person had a presence of guilty mind as well ( mens rea )

But in the case of psychopaths there is no presence of mens rea. In our Indian judicial system the underlying principle of the doctrine of mens rea is followed which is expressed in a Latin Maxim ‘‘actus non facit reum nisi men sit rea” which means that the act doesn’t make one guilty unless the mind is also guilty.

Since mens rea is important in a crime and if a person claims that he/she is a psychopath it gets difficult to prove the presence of guilty mind in that criminal act.

Psychopathy is corresponded to criminal conduct and viciousness. They are individuals who are fair-minded in their activities against others. It can change from cheating somebody's life investment funds to controlling law requirement offices to reprimanding the casualty for their bad behavior. In contrast to killers, when a maniac commits a homicide, it is well on the way to be arranged and composed and not a demonstration submitted without giving it much thought. The maniacs are conceived cruel people, who when confronted with overpowering blame will guarantee that they lost control or were angrily while submitting the act. The maniacs are splendid liars, who will profess to not have the foggiest idea about the explanation of their demonstrations, however on opposite will design an ideal, undeniable and determined wrongdoing.

Research shows that individuals who are termed as psychopaths show that they display certain aspects of temper, which includes lack of fear, inhibition and a stimulus seeking behavior. Psychopathy is defined as a disorder characterized by:

· Lack of remorse or empathy

· Hallow emotions

· Manipulativeness

· Lying

· Egocentric

· Glibness

· Low frustration tolerance

· Episodic relationships, parasitic lifestyle

· The persistent violation of social norms

· Need for stimulation and criminal versatility[1]

With this it is clear that they are very intelligent and they can harm anyone without any reason and that harm is done with pure and sure sadist feeling.

In India, a couple of arrangements are indicated in different laws for a man encountering psychological sickness for e.g., in IPC; sec. 84 arrangements with the law of madness produced using utilizing the Mc. Naughten rules of England which utilizes an increasingly intelligible term, 'unsoundness of brain' instead of craziness. It has been investigated of being outdated since they don't give assurance to the human conduct emerging out of variation from the norm of psyche, or halfway fancy, overpowering motivation or the incautious conduct of the insane person. In any case, under some close to home laws and in the Evidence Act, certain arrangements identifying with the mental case are available. The Code of criminal Procedure, 1973, Chapter XXV discussions about the strategy to be actualized in the preliminary of an intellectually sick individual. Be that as it may, these laws are as yet insufficient to manage the issues identified with mental cases. The courts pressure on the requirement for executing an increasingly exhaustive and dynamic demeanor in the utilization of the laws identified with the psychopathic conduct.

“All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”

Now talking about the treatment of people who are psychopaths, these cannot be cured as this disorder doesn’t have any diagnosis , but these people can be treated only if the society help those people by showing their awareness, positive attitude towards this issue. As there is no cure for psychopathy. No pill can instill empathy, no vaccine can prevent murder in cold blood, and no amount of talk therapy can change an uncaring mind. For all intents and purposes, psychopaths are lost to the normal social world.


With the end of this article I conclude that it depends on the society to think about what will be the real justice to psychopaths i.e. punishment or therapy.

Psychopathy is one of the most hazardous mental illness and gives a hypothetical and pragmatic test to the Criminal law and the Criminal Justice System. Mental illnesses should be logical concerning their seriousness and gravity extraordinarily having the nature towards wrongdoing.

Psychiatry and law approach the issue of human conduct from various philosophical points of view. The Criminal law is, nonetheless, 'a pragmatic, sane, regulating science which, draws upon hypothetical science yet is worried about the issue of condemning human lead'. Albeit much examination has been done to get a top to bottom information about insane people in U.K. what's more, U.S.A., there is additionally a critical need to make mass consciousness of this illness and to make separate condemning strategy for maniacs.

Because of the absence of data and mindfulness about mental cases they are commonly considered as beasts not patients. This attitude should be changed and endeavors ought to be made to treat them normally. Mental cases are patients and not hoodlums; in addition, instead of correctional a remedial methodology ought to be followed to serve society, human rights and insane people.

Endeavors have been made in nations like U.K. furthermore, U.S.A. toward this path. Unique laws have been proclaimed keeping in see the logical truth that intellectually sick guilty parties are not crooks but rather casualties in their own particular manners as they are commonly unconscious of the malady and the results of the wrongdoing submitted by them.

[1] R.D. Hare & D.N. Cox, Clinical and empirical conceptions of psychopathy, and the selection of subjects for research, in R. D. HARE & D. SCHALLING, PSYCHOPATHIC BEHAVIOR: APPROACHES TO RESEARCH 107-144 (1978); Wiley. R. D. Hare, Comparison procedures for the assessment of psychopathy, 53 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 7-16 (1985).


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