I know that sociopathy isn't technically in the DSM any more, but what I mean by the term is an individual devoid of a conscience. They don't feel guilt no matter what they do and as such so long as an action would benefit them and they think they can get away with it they have no qualms in doing it no matter how terrible it may be.
I'm toying with a story idea in which a number of prominent people who were sociopaths suddenly were 'cured'. Overnight they develop a well developed conscience and a sense of guilt about all the things they have done in the past. They often go out of the way to decry their former actions, to ask forgiveness from those they harmed, to change any ongoing activities that harm others, and to donate money to charities.
However, this effect doesn't last. In every case the person 'cured' is only cured for anywhere from somewhere between a week to a month or two, at which point they revert back to their sociopathic ways. This pattern has happened enough that people who are develop a conscience are often worried about making lasting effects that will decrease the harm they have done and will do when they fall back to sociopathy.
I'm wondering how the legal system in general, and in the USA in particular, would handle temporary concounse.
To give an example lets say that sociopath Bob suddenly came to the police to make a written confession of numerous evil deeds he has done in the past, and provides e-mail and other evidence to this affect. He also donates most of his wealth to a charity of his choice leaving him nearly broke. He enters contractual deals designed to undo or prevent him from continuing harmful practicies with stiff penalties if he breaks these contracts. Then he switches back to his old self and claims that all those actions were done in a moment of insanity. He tries to have the money donated to charity refunded and the contracts rendered null and void due to claiming he wasn't in a sane state of mind when he engaged in these actions.
Will this argument work? Is Bob likely to be able to get any of the evidence or confessions he made thrown out of court by claiming temporary insanity? Could bob get his charitable donations refunded to him, or alternatively tie up the charity in legal battle for his money so long as to caught the charity as much as the donation would have been worth? Will he be able to break the contracts he made? In short, how much will society, and the legal system, hold these individuals to the actions during their temporary conscience phase?
For the record it is not known why some people are developing a conscience, though the fact that it only seems to happen to well known and rich public figures suggests it may be somehow triggered intentionally by someone rather then being random such as from a disease, which would be expected to also affect less well known sociopaths.