“Psychological harm is not a disease of the mind”

When the law and the mind come together…

The former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith appeared on the Today programme this morning, promoting his call for a new law to be introduced to punish people who drive their partners to suicide. He says the current 1861 Offence Against the Person Act is inadequate because it requires a retrospective diagnosis of psychiatric illness in the person who killed themselves.

Enter criminal barrister John Cooper who believes the current Act works perfectly well. He says the law already states that psychiatric harm is assault. He explains:

“It’s very difficult to prove psychological harm. Psychological harm is not a disease of the mind. A psychiatric condition is a disease of the mind. But the law has to have clarity in this respect. We can section people under a mental health order. We can say a person is unfit to plead if they are psychiatrically troubled. That’s because we can prove it by a disease of the mind. It all gets very woolly when we bring in psychology”.

Well that’s cleared that up then.

Link to audio file of the discussion.

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