"Me thinks all the world mad but me and thee. And sometimes I wonder about thee." – Unknown Quaker Saying
While sometimes attributed to Robert Owen, a Welsh born social reformer of the late 18th century with a fascinating history of his own, the origins of this quote are not know with certainty so far as my limited research could discover. Nonetheless, the words, and a host of phrases of similar meaning, have a common ring and are often used as a euphemism for the fact that state of mind can be a very personal matter of perception. What to one individual seems completely crazy, may to another appear merely common practice. Most of us recognize this problem, but for the legal profession, leaving things lie with such loose definitions is impractical to say the least. Whether the stakes involve the capacity of a defendant to stand trial, the value of injuries to an abused child, or the capacity of testator to distribute of their worldly possessions by will; questions of the mind abound in the law and most, if not all, require some precision in definition.
For many years, the ability of an injured plaintiff to claim damages for mental injury related to a tort were severely limited by the understanding that traumatic mental harm, usually referred to as some variation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), required some personal exposure to the stressor in question. With the publishing of the first update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (now DSM V) to come from the American Psychiatric Association in almost twenty years, proving real psychological damage to a tort victim may have just become a little more practical.