if I am mad and my action would not have been performed if not for loss of reality (i.e. psychosis) will I still bear its -ve fruit?

As a Buddhist or otherwise.

Please answer sensitively :)

2 Answers 2


"The Pali term Karma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Karma"

You have to look at the action (good or bad) and the consequence( Kamma & vipaka). whether one has a sound mind or unsound mind doesn't matter, without intention there is no action.

Even a person suffering from psychosis uses his mind to do things, so without thoughts nothing good or bad happens( the thoughts may be abnormal,incomplete,unclear or confusing) ,but a person with psychosis may not feel the consequences like a normal person ,so the magnitude of suffering may differ for the same actions committed by different people.


I'm not sure I agree with jathin's answer. There was a case in my country a few years ago, where someone on a bus cut off someone else's head. They did that, because they thought that they were sitting next to a devil. The criminal justice trial found them "not guilty of murder by reason of diminished responsibility", they were remanded for psychiatric care, and later released (with anti-psychotic medication).

I'm not sure I know about kamma but I think that intention follows from view, and if your view is psychotic (e.g. if you think you're sitting next to a devil) then I'm not sure. I slightly doubt whether Buddhism would recommend you kill even a "devil" if you meet one: but still.

I think that the Vinaya (see page 74 through 86) identifies what constitutes murder:

  • Object: the victim must have been human
  • Intention and perception: the assailant must have intended to cause death
  • Effort: the assailant must have done something to cause death
  • Result: the victim had to actually die as a result

I'm not sure whether the Vinaya rule is the same as "kamma", but I'd argue that psychosis may prevent intention and/or perception.

In my country, an adult who is psychotic may be given a court-appointed legal guardian -- that is, if they're unable to make informed decisions, if they cannot give informed consent, because they are:

  • Unable to understand the choices available to them
  • Unable to understand the likely consequences of each choice.

The first story of the Dhammapada is about someone who couldn't see with their eyes. Maybe someone with psychosis cannot properly see with their mind (and cannot form criminal intent).

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