In Part III Chapter 1, Dr.Zossimov diagnses Raskolnikov as a patient with "some suspicion of mental disturbance" and "some indications of monomania". He advises Raskolnikov's family and friends to avoid upsetting him.

When we encounter someone with mental disabilities, we tend to be more lenient towards them and are willing to overlook many abnormal, abnoxious behavior. That is exactly what is happening in this scene. By telling his family and friends that Raskolnikov is mentally sick, Dr.Zossimov has created a kind of a shield - a protection - against murder suspection. Due to this new diagnosis, Raskolnikov's obsession with the crime is thought of as a symptom of the mental sickness and thus repels any type of suspections people might have otherwise formulated against him.

But is this diagnosis only protecting Raskolnikov?

It also seems to play a dual role.

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The diagnosis also protects his family and friends who are afraid to face the truth.

Labeling Raskolnikov as "mentally disturbed" Pulcheria, Dounia and even Razumikhin is attempting to avoid the inevitable - the fact that Raskolnikov has commited a murder.