insanity

(Latin: in, not; sanus, sound)

May be defined as a continuous morbid mental condition caused by an affection or abnormality of the brain or nervous system which is accompanied by a lack of control of the will. This does not comprehend such states as are caused by fever or excessive alcoholism such as hysteria, certain types of sexual perversion, etc. Since volitional freedom is necessarily hampered by an insane condition the individual is not morally responsible for his acts, hence one who commits suicide while insane may be accorded a Christian burial. The Church permits those who have always been insane to be baptized and it supplies the intention for the candidate, and also those who were once sane, but who are incurable or in danger of death if they had expressly desired it in a sane interval. An insane individual may not be a sponsor at Baptism. Confirmation may be administered. Communion may be received, by those who have not always been insane, in sane moments, or when in danger of death. Extreme Unction may be administered under the same conditions. A candidate for Holy Orders who becomes temporarily insane may be ordained if he recovers; one who is so afflicted after ordination may on recovery exercise his privileges. Marriage is forbidden to the perpetually insane, but in the case of an individual who has sane intervals and has contracted a marriage during such an interval, it is valid. The Church countenances segregation of the insane to protect the state from degenerate propagation but condemns such measures as sterilization, which deprive an individual of his rights. From a very early date the Church has made provisions for the welfare of the insane; they were cared for first in homes of the bishops, in monasteries, and later in hospitals which were established parallel with the foundation of the Benedictine and Irish monks. It has continued its humanitarian work by establishing large insane asylums such as those under the supervision of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.

New Catholic Dictionary

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