The case of Valentine Shortis--yesterday and today

Can J Psychiatry. 1991 Apr;36(3):159-66; discussion 166-8. doi: 10.1177/070674379103600301.


Valentine Shortis, a young Irish immigrant, was convicted of murder in Quebec in 1895. His insanity defence was unsuccessful in spite of psychiatric evidence given by the leading psychiatrists in Canada. Shortis spent the next 42 years in custody. The case provides a good vehicle for exploring a number of aspects of the history of psychiatry, the insanity defence, and the treatment of the criminally insane in Canada. Comparisons are made with the insanity defence and the treatment of the criminally insane today.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / history*
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Homicide / history*
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense / history*
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Quebec

Personal name as subject

  • F V Shortis