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This paper clarifies the conceptual space of discussion of legal insanity by considering the virtues of the ‘medical model’ model that has been used in Norway for almost a century. The medical model identifies insanity exclusively with mental disorder, and especially with psychosis, without any requirement that the disorder causally influenced the commission of the crime. We explore the medical model from a transdisciplinary perspective and show how it can be utilised to systematise and reconsider the central philosophical, legal and medical premises involved in the insanity debate. A key concern is how recent transdiagnostic and dimensional approaches to psychosis can illuminate the law's understanding of insanity and its relation to mental disorder. The authors eventually raise the question whether the medical model can be reconstructed into a unified insanity model that is valid across the related disciplinary perspectives, and that moves beyond current insanity models.


Criminal law, medical model, criminal insanity, Norwegian insanity law, criminal responsibility, mental disorder

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International Journal of Law and Psychiatry