Understanding Utah's system for mentally ill offenders can sometimes be confusing. Articles contain the same key phrases, over and over. But if you don't know what they mean, the repetition doesn't help. Here's a glossary:
Alienist: Anyone licensed as a social worker, psychiatrist, etc., can become board certified as an alienist. Most alienists are psychiatrists and psychologists. They determine whether someone is legally sane.Bipolar disorder (Manic depressive illness): Characterized by periods of "high" moods and/or irritability, followed by depression. Someone with the disorder may experience delusions or hallucinations. The illness can be disabling and even life-threatening but is frequently treatable with psychiatric medication.
Competent: Able to understand the charges against him and the possible consequences of those charges. Can help his attorney defend him and understands the court proceedings.
Decompensate: An increase in the symptoms of mental illness that were considered disabling.
Designated examiner: Mental-health professional appointed by the court to evaluate allegedly mentally ill person and his records to determine if hospitalization is necessary. Will testify during a commitment hearing.
Guilty and Mentally Ill: The defendant is found to be responsible for his criminal offense, but his mental illness played some part in it. If currently mentally ill and a danger to himself or others, sent to the State Hospital. Otherwise, sent to prison.
Incompetent: If found not competent, will be committed to State Hospital for treatment.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: No guilt for a criminal act attaches to a defendant because he is too mentally ill to be responsible. The person may be placed under the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board and sent to the State Hospital for treatment.
Organic Brain Syndrome: Abnormal psychological or behavioral functioning based upon a dysfunction of the brain. There are several causes, including extended substance abuse, a brain tumor or injury.
Psychosis: Major distortions or interpretations of reality. For example, the notion that one can be controlled through brain waves transmitted by radio receivers.
Schizophrenia: A serious, sometimes disabling mental illness. Symptoms include "positive symptoms," like hearing voices, and "negative symptoms," like withdrawing from families and friends. It does not mean "split" or "multiple personalities."