Epilepsy and homicide
Neil S Pandya,1 Mirna Vrbancic,2 Lady Diana Ladino,3,4 José F Téllez-Zenteno3
1Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; 2Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; 3Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; 4Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
Purpose: We report the rare case of a patient with intractable epilepsy and escalating aggression, resulting in murder, who had complete resolution of her seizures and explosive behavior following a right temporal lobectomy.
Patients and methods: We searched the available literature from 1880 to 2013 for cases of epilepsy being used as a court defense for murder and collected information regarding the final sentencing outcomes. We selected 15 papers with a total of 50 homicides.
Results: We describe the case of a 47-year-old woman with drug-resistant right temporal epilepsy who developed increasing emotional lability, outbursts of anger and escalating violent behavior culminating in a violent murder. The patient was imprisoned while awaiting trial. In the interim, she underwent a successful temporal lobectomy with full resolution of seizures, interictal rage and aggressive behaviors. After the surgery, her charges were downgraded and she was transferred to a psychiatric facility.
Conclusion: The aggressive behavior associated with epilepsy has been described in the literature for over a century. A link between epilepsy and aggression has been disproportionally emphasized. These patients share some common characteristics: they are usually young men with a long history of epilepsy and lower than average intelligence. The violent act is postictal, sudden-onset, more likely to occur after a cluster of seizures and is usually related with alcohol abuse.
Keywords: aggression, crime, epilepsy surgery, murder, temporal lobectomy
This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.Download Article [PDF] View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]