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August 1993

Neurologist's Role in Understanding Violence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC.

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(8):867-869. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540080070017

Violence is one of the major public health problems in the United States today. Twenty thousand deaths per annum, the majority involving firearms, are the result of the intentional violence of one person toward another. Violence is the leading cause of death among young black males whose homicide rates are up to 142 per 100 000. Annually, there are four to six million rapes, two million cases of child abuse, and two to four million wife batterings.1-4Pari passu with this, and possibly contributing to it, the American family structure has deteriorated. In 1950,17% of black births and 2% of white births were out of wedlock. Today, the figures are 66% and 16%, respectively.5

Is there a role for a neurologist in the understanding, treatment, and prevention of violence? In the sense that all behavior derives from brain activity and abnormal behavior from abnormal brain activity, neurologists may

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