January 11, 1964

The "Senseless Crime"

JAMA. 1964;187(2):155. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060150079033

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To the Editor:—  In a recent issue of The Journal (vol 186, Oct 19, 1963, adv p 41), there are quotations from a lecture on "Seizure and the 'Senseless Crime.' " This lecture, held at an international meeting in London, contains erroneous statements. Specifically, petit mal is described as one of the "aphasic intervals of suspended consciousness without suspension of motor activity which provide occasions when the sufferer may commit a violent or senseless crime without being aware of it." Any contemporary student of epilepsy will reject this statement as contradictory to all known clinical and pathophysiological characteristics of this disorder. By no stretch of imagination will it be possible for an individual during a petit mal attack to perform the most simple goal-directed motor activity —let alone a violent crime.Epileptic patients bear enough social prejudice and should not be subjected to the additional stigma of being considered potential

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