U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Crime and Epilepsy

NCJ Number
Bordeaux Medical Volume: 5 Issue: 19 Dated: (December 1972) Pages: 2609-2616
P Loiseau; P Henry
Date Published
8 pages
The study examines the conditions under which epileptics commit murder and the frequency of such crimes, assessing the possibility of a connection between criminal behavior and epilepsy.
Crimes may be committed by epileptics during or immediately after a seizure, or between seizures as an effect of various types of physical and psychological problems associated with the illness. Psychiatrists of the late nineteenth century associated destructive impulses and criminal behavior with epilepsy. Classic epileptic specialists also have concluded that epileptics tend to commit crimes characterized by violence. In recent years, however, Scandinavian and English researchers have questioned the validity of these claims. They believe that crime is not more prevalent among epileptics than among the population at large, that no relationship can be demonstrated between seizures and criminal acts, and that crimes by epileptics are connected to mental problems. Furthermore, not every epileptic is capable of committing violent crimes: not epilepsy, but the drives unleashed in a seizure are responsible for murders by epileptics. Legally, a crime can only be attributed to epilepsy when the murderer is subject to undeniable seizures, when the course of the seizure is identical to the usual course of the individual's seizures, when the electroencephalographic patterns for the particular seizure conform to those for the clinical type of seizure, and when the circumstances of the murder are clearly related to the individual's loss of consciousness. EEG anomalies alone are not sufficient evidence of epilepsy. The fact that an individual is epileptic does not affect criminal responsibility for murders committed between seizures. A bibliography is furnished. --in French.