Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Violence in sleep: medico-legal issues and two case reports

Christopher Howarda1 c1 and P. T. D'Orbána1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital, London


Reported cases of violence during sleep are reviewed. Two new cases are reported where the subjects were charged respectively with attempted murder and murder; both were acquitted on the grounds of non-insane automatism. Clinical features and aetiological factors are analysed. The legal concepts surrounding non-insane automatism are discussed and criticized.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr C. Howard, Academic Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG