The author presents the case that society's efforts to understand the insanity defense and insanity-pleading defendants are doomed to intellectual, moral, and political gridlock unless we are willing to take a fresh look at the doctrine through a series of filters-empirical research, scientific discovery, moral philosophy, cognitive and moral psychology, and sociology-in an effort to confront the single most important (but rarely asked) question: why do we feel the way we do about "these people" (insanity pleaders)? He examines this question finally through a model of structural anthropology and concludes that until we come to grips with the extent to which ours is a "culture of punishment," we can make no headway in solving the insanity defense dilemma.
Perlin, Michael L., "Myths, Realities, and the Political World: The Anthropology of Insanity Defense Attitudes" (1996). Articles & Chapters. 1239.