December 16, 2012

An Insane Age: When Patriotism Attracts The Charge of Insanity

An excerpt from, "Attainted: The Life and Afterlife of Ezra Pound in Italy," by Luciano Mangiafico.
Defense counsel Cornell, who had first met Pound on November 20, had an easy time with his insanity defense. The four psychiatrists had come back to the judge with a unanimous report calling Pound delusional. The prosecutor, Isaiah Matlack, next moved for a public “insanity hearing” before a jury. The hearing was held on February 13, 1946, and the jury heard from Dr. Winfred Overholser, a psychiatric authority, who summed up:
"[Pound] shows a remarkable grandiosity … believes he has been designated to save the Constitution of the United States for the people of the United States … has a feeling that he has the key to the peace of the world through the writings of Confucius … believes that with himself as a leader a group of intellectuals could work for world order …mentally unfit to advise properly with counsel or to participate reasonably and intelligently in his own defense. He is, in other words, insane.
Dr. Winfred Overholser's Wikipedia: "1892 – October 6, 1964, was a U.S. psychiatrist, president of the American Psychiatric Association, and for 25 years the superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal institution for the mentally ill in Washington, D.C."

Today, the mentally ill in Washington D.C. are housed in Congress.