skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 73281 Find in a Library
Title: Epilepsy and Delinquency
Journal: Jornal Brasileiro de Psiquiatria  Volume:19  Issue:3  Dated:(July - December 1970)  Pages:245-249
Author(s): D Braga; J P deOliveira Filho
Date Published: 1970
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: Portuguese
Country: Brazil
Annotation: Epilepsy as a nonbehavioral correlate of crime is still a controversial subject; while it cannot be entirely dismissed, patients suffering from other types of mental illness show a much higher incidence of criminal violence.
Abstract: The correlation between epileptic seizures and incontrollably violent behavior was already known thousands of years ago (e.g., the portrayal of Hercules in a Greek tragedy by Euripides, going on a violent rampage in the throes of a seizure, apparently of the temporal-lobe epilepsy type). A close linkage between epilepsy and crime was postulated by criminologists of the Italian inborn-criminality school, and is still accepted by a large number of today's criminologists and psychiatrists in various countries. Based on recent diagnostic advances, encephalographic research, and Brazilian and foreign statistics, criminality among epileptics appears to be comparatively rare. Surveys conducted at Brazilian hospitals for the criminally insane, as well as findings by psychiatrists in other countries, contradict the classic psychiatric theories linking epilepsy with violent crime. Individuals suffering from other types of mental illness (e.g., encephalopathy, schizophrenia) commit more violent crimes than epileptic patients. A study of the epilepsy-violence correlation must distinguish between crimes committed by nonpsychotic epileptics and crimes committed by psychotic epileptics, who suffer from other mental pathologies. The rare crimes committed by nonpsychotic epileptics appear to be triggered by psychological and socioeconomic factors creating tensions they cannot bear. In contrast, psychotic epileptics commit crimes of extreme violence in a state of partially or totally altered consciousness (twilight state), which is also a state of automatism, caused by temporal-lobe, or locomotor epilepsy. The violent behavior, however, is due to psychiatric complications caused by the other mental illnesses concurrently suffered by these epileptics. Eight references are appended. --in Portuguese.
Index Term(s): Aggression; Brazil; Crime Causes; Criminology; Encephalographic research; Epilepsy; Forensic psychiatry; Mental disorders; Neurological disorders; Nonbehavioral correlates of crime; Psychiatry; Violence; Violent offenders
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.