10 Uses of the Insanity Defense

Lorena Bobbitt
Lorena Bobbitt broke down on the stand during her trial in early 1994. © Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma/Corbis

In June 1993, Lorena Bobbitt infamously cut off her husband's penis with a kitchen knife. She then drove away, throwing the penis out the car window, later to be found alongside the highway and reattached to its original owner.

Lorena pleaded self-defense, claiming her actions were because her husband, John, had raped and abused her for years, and she had post-traumatic stress disorder. A jury found Lorena not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, and she was sent to a psychiatric hospital where she remained for 45 days. If found guilty, Lorena could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

John denied the charges, and was acquitted of assaulting Lorena.