Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity

Series 1 - Episode 1



It’s hard to make good documentaries about mental health, and it can be hard to watch them, too. But this is Louis Theroux so we know we’ll get sensitive film-making that patiently peels away the layers of the story and the characters in it – plus the odd moment of hilarity.

In this film, that moment comes as a patient called Judith at a psychiatric hospital in Cincinnati unexpectedly reveals in conversation that she literally believes herself to be Jesus. “That didn’t come up when we played cards, did it?” deadpans Louis. He talks to her and other patients found “not guilty by reason of insanity” and now coming to terms with their sometimes shocking crimes. It makes for a poignant, thought-provoking film.


The journalist immerses himself in the world of Ohio's maximum security state psychiatric hospitals, meeting patients who have committed crimes - some horrifically violent - while suffering from severe mental illnesses. In the first of a two-part programme, Louis spends time with patients who are attempting to come to terms with what they have done and talks to the clinicians entrusted with delivering the treatment it is hoped will one day lead to their reintegration back into society.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Louis Theroux
Director Jamie Pickup
Executive Producer Aysha Rafaele
Series Producer Jamie Pickup
Documentary Science