Gender, Insanity, Crime, Women who kill, Murder, Ireland, case studies, pathology
Women who kill are frequently subject to discourses of pathology. This article examines the cases of three women convicted of murder in Ireland following Independence in 1922 and explores how each woman was constructed as pathologised. Using archival materials, the article demonstrates that diagnoses were contingent and imbricated with notions of gender, morality, dangerousness, and class. For two of the women, their pathologisation led to them being certified as insane and admitted to the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum. However, pathologisation could be mediated by respectable femininity. The article also explores the pathways which facilitated judgements of pathology, including the acceptance of a framework of degeneracy, or hereditary insanity, and examines how women could be redeemed from the diagnoses of ‘insanity’.