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The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau

Psychiatry and the Law in the Gilded Age

In this brilliant study, Charles Rosenberg uses the celebrated trial of Charles Guiteau, who assassinated President Garfield in 1881, to explore insanity and criminal responsibility in the Gilded Age. Rosenberg masterfully reconstructs the courtroom battle waged by twenty-four expert witnesses who represented the two major schools of psychiatric thought of the generation immediately preceding Freud.

Although the role of genetics in behavior was widely accepted, these psychiatrists fiercely debated whether heredity had predisposed Guiteau to assassinate Garfield. Rosenberg’s account allows us to consider one of the opening rounds in the controversy over the criminal responsibility of the insane, a debate that still rages today.

308 pages | 6 halftones, 6 line drawings | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1968

History: American History


Table of Contents

1: July the Second
2: September 8, 1841-July 2, 1881
Charles J. Guiteau
3: The Prisoner, Psychiatry, and the Law
4: Before the Trial
5: The Trial Begins
6: Enter Dr. Spitzka
7: Interlude
8: The Trial Ends
9: The Condemned
10: Aftermath
A Note on Sources

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