Tuesday’s discussion about the criminal justice system, the insanity defence, and neuroscience immediately reminded me of a This American Life episode I heard over the summer. In this clip, we meet Tony, a patient being treated at a psychiatric facility. Tony believes that he faked insanity to have a shorter sentence but now can not get out. The story is about 20-25 mins long (Act 1, begins at 4:30) but I do recommend finding some time to listen to it if you can (once you start, it will be hard to stop, well at least it was for me). Tony’s story is still one of the most baffling/mind-boggling that I have heard on this show. I wish that there was a clear-cut neurobiological assessment of Tony’s case to turn to because, well, not to spoil it, but I still can’t figure out if he is actually insane.
Turning the tables just a bit on Sapolsky’s view in his article, could an application of neuroscience not only help get the proper care to people who need it instead of putting them in jail, but also help better asses the state of psychiatric patients in order to make sure that the level of care is appropriate and not merely a figment of the DSM?