A Summary of “Choice, deliberation, violence Mental Capacity and Criminal Responsibility in Personality Disorder” by Hanna Pickard.

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A Summary of “Choice, deliberation, violence: Mental Capacity andCriminal Responsibility in Personality Disorder” by Hanna Pickard.

Personality disorder influences criminal activities and self-harm.Hannah Pickard explores and discusses how individuals withpersonality disorder are treated in the hands of the Law in Englandand Wales. The arguments of her article, “Choice, deliberation,violence: Mental Capacity and Criminal responsibility in personalitydisorder” are summarized below.

Individuals with the personality disorder (PD) are violent and commitcrime thus influencing the lives of their families and friends.Pickard argues that victims who corporate are admitted voluntarily tomental hospitals while those arrested for committing crimes areinvoluntarily admitted to mental institutions by order of the court.However, for the victim to be held criminally responsible for theoffense, the offender must have cognitive abilities that demonstratethey had a choice and were in control of the situation whencommitting the act. The degree of selection and control may bedifferent for the offenders, hence, the reason it is crucial indetermining criminal responsibility and mental capacity in law.

The author argues that the nature of personality disorder ischaracterized by enduring behavioral patterns that manifest asinflexible responses to personal and social situations thus causingpersonal distress that interferes with the proper functioning of anindividual (Pickard, (2015). Another feature of personality disorderis that it may be generic and associated with environmentalconditions. It is believed that people who are brought up indysfunctional families that are characterized by traumatic childhoodexperiences, social stressors such as poverty, war, high migrationrate, and physical abuse are more likely to suffer from personalitydisorder and engage in criminal activities. Personality disorderlacked a cure in the past, but recently there have been changes inthe medical field. Patients can be treated by helping them managetheir problematic traits and controlling their attitudes andbehavior, especially when relating to others. People with PD alsosuffer from the self-directed violence that is characterized by thedesire to commit suicide, punishment and induced pain.

The author also sought to understand whether people with PD that tendto be violent towards self or others, typically meet the conditionsfor criminal responsibility and mental capacity. She discovered thatalthough some of the victims may try to desist from the violent acts,they tend to suffer from internal duress. Additionally, PD cases aredistinct among the victims. Therefore, when determining whether onemeets the conditions for criminal responsibility and mental capacity,the judgment should be made based on a case because desire, valuesand emotions are features that affect one’s behavior, especiallywhen committing a crime. However, in cases where violence isself-directed, the person meets the conditions for mental capacitywhile in other-directed violence the person is likely to meet theconditions for criminal responsibility.

To address the tensions, within the confines of current legislation,the article argues that the victims should be subjected to standardcare and treatment. The procedure involves hospital admissionswhether voluntary or involuntary. Besides the external treatment, thePD victims should be willing to work towards changing and managingtheir problematic traits better. The caregivers should also remainethical although it might be difficult especially in cases ofinvoluntary admission.

In conclusion, Pickard believed that PD victims pose serious threatsto themselves and the society. However, the government has aresponsibility of providing appropriate treatment that shall maketheir lives better in future, a provision that lacks in England andWales.


Pickard, H. (2015). Choice, Deliberation, Violence: Mental Capacityand Criminal Responsibility in Personality Disorder. InternationalJournal of Law and Psychiatry, 40, 15-24.