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In Guilty Except for Insanity, Director and Professor of Psychology Jan Haaken goes behind the walls of the Oregon State Hospital, the location of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and recounts the stories of real patients who enter this famous hospital for the "criminally insane." Their stories reveal the craziness of an American System where one must commit a crime to receive psychiatric help.  


Although forensic hospitals provide a form of asylum for individuals with diagnosable conditions, the film vividly portrays the daunting consequences of this path through the criminal justice system. Patients typically serve longer sentences and are far more stigmatized than are inmates once they leave the hospital, and they are often targets of prejudice in the neighborhoods where they live in group facilities; The documentary probes this maddening world and uncovers deeper psychological truths about the human need for care and connection, as well as for freedom. (85 minutes)



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"This film is a powerful teacher. I hope anyone studying health and human services has a chance to see it."

— Maggie Bennington-Davis, M.D., Psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer, Cascadia Behavioral


Unfolding much like a play with nine acts, Guilty Except for Insanity may be shown in its entirety or in segments. Each segment focuses on a dilemma in the journey into and out of a state psychiatric hospital.The film and included study guide are intended to stimulate thoughtful discussions on problems in the care of people suffering mental health crises and on how boundaries are constructed between sanity and madness.

Guilty Except for Insanity is guided by the social action research tradition in the field of psychology -- a tradition committed to placing psychological problems in their social contexts to facilitate social change. Guilty Except for Insanity is a vital teaching and research tool for:

  • Majors in a wide range of fields, including Arts and Letters, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Media Studies, Diversity Studies.

  • Graduate and professional programs, including Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Education, Psychology, Counseling, Psychiatry, Social Work, Law, Nursing, Urban Studies, Criminology.

Images From the Film

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