The Sovereign Citizen Movement and Fitness to Stand Trial

Jennifer Pytyck and Gary A. Chaimowitz “The Sovereign Citizen Movement and Fitness to Stand Trial

The authors investigate the mental health implications of OPCA affiliates’ bizarre language and paranoid ideas. They conclude that the beliefs and consequential conduct are not the product of a mental disorder but instead is a form of paranoid political belief: “extreme but subculturally-normative beliefs”. Though they appeared psychotic, the authors concluded that the OPCA litigants’ perspectives and actions were a consequence of honestly held ideas that have been reinforced in OPCA communities. OPCA litigants are therefore legally competent. Their incredible ideas and strange behaviors simulate the symptoms of psychosis, but are not amenable to treatment with antipsychotic medication. The authors stress the formulaic and bizarre manner in whic h OPCA affiliates’ acts, use of language, and use of legal terminology mimics mental illness. A curious fact is that non-transitory OPCA affiliates are aware that OPCA ideas damage their adherents – they witness others fail and experience legal sanction. Why then do they persist? Pytyck and Chaimowitz explain this as a social phenomenon. OPCA concepts are propagated and consumed in marginal groups with extreme political and conspiratorial beliefs. Does this mean a dialogue with OPCA litigants is necessarily political, philosophical, or emotional, rather than based on fact, history, and logic?

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