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Aphasia and Will Making


Dr. Byrom Bramwell has dealt with this question in a suggestive manner. The legal attitude in reference to wills made by the insane is generally in accordance with justice, for judgment may be said to be ruled by the case of Banks v. Goodfellow, when Lord Chief Justice Cockburn adopted the earlier test, “Was the capacity in this particular case adequate to the act?” Wood Renton states that “testamentary capacity consists in the possession by the testator of a memory sufficiently active to recall (a) the nature and extent of his property, and (b) the persons who have claims upon his bounty, and a judgment and will sufficiently free from the influence of morbid ideas or external control to determine the relative strength of these claims.” and further, “the testamentary capacity of aphasics depends upon the same considerations.” It is plain that each case must be determined on its own merits, whether the person be insane or aphasic. The means of communication are limited, but the associated mental defects constitute the real difficulty in determining the validity of such a will. Dr. Bramwell points out that mental defect is more probable in total aphasia, and greater in cortical than subcortical aphasias. He enters at length into the methods of examination, and claims that such cases should be investigated by competent physicians. Professor Gairdner has contributed a letter to the British Medical Journal of the 12th June, in which he concludes that “it is almost impossible to lay down categorically or dogmatically the conditions under which a particular aphasic can, or cannot, make a bequest.” We recall Dr. Savage's memorable words—no two houses fall into ruins in exactly the same way, and accept Dr. Gairdner's conclusion as a summary of our present knowledge.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Aphasia and Will Making

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