This Paper explores the potential for a Canadian defense of brainwashing in the context of battered spouses who commit crimes against third parties. Part I briefly discusses a working definition of “brainwashing” and the historical basis for this potential defense. Part II discusses the juridical basis for a new defense of brainwashing by examining the theory behind the proposed defense. This leads to an examination of the established defenses of necessity, duress, automatism, and diminished capacity, which in turn moves the discussion toward the feasibility of an affirmative defense of brainwashing through the concept of superimposed intent. Part III will explore the evolution of Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) as a model for a new defense and will examine brainwashing and the battered spouse. The paper is limited to a subset of abused women termed victims of the “sexual sadist.” Part IV concludes by analyzing the case of Karla Homolka and the future of a brainwashing defense.



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