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Constructive Incapacity: an American Will Case


In the American “Journal of Insanity” for Jan., 1875, there is an article by Dr. Ray on a contested will—the Duncan Will Case—in which he discharges, as he says, “the ungracious task of exposing some features of a trial little calculated to shed much lustre on the medical jurisprudence of his country.” Had he said that it was not calculated to shed any lustre, but well fitted to cast some ignominy, upon the medical jurisprudence of his country, it would have been hard to dispute the statement. There was nothing in the will itself, nothing on the face of it, which yielded the least indication of insanity; not one of the persons who were in frequent and close intercourse with the deceased for nine months before his death, most of whom were persons of education and of good social position, had the least suspicion that he was not in his right mind; and those who were about him when he made his will, and up to the time of his death, agreed that he was not in any degree unduly influenced in the disposal of his property, and that he understood perfectly what he was doing. In fact, the main provisions of his will, which was made eleven days before his death, were in accordance with the scheme of distribution of his property which he had adopted in two previous wills made by him. If ever, then, a will appeared to be a rational act rationally done, this was one.

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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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Constructive Incapacity: an American Will Case

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