In 1907, Harry K. Thaw, son of a railroad multi-millionaire, stood trial for shooting and killing architect Stanford White during the performance of a Broadway musical. The defense claimed that Thaw had experienced a “brain storm” causing temporary insanity. The brain-storm defense was ridiculed by professional groups, the public and the press. However, the defense experts were all respected leaders in their fields. They included five past or future presidents of the American Psychiatric Association and American Neurological Association. With no standard terminology in 1907, the much-maligned brain-storm diagnosis was in many respects an appropriate term for a sudden, drastic and temporary defect of reasoning having a physical cause. In spite of a strict test for mental nonresponsibility, the jury did not return a murder verdict.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2007
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