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Violent parasomnias and sleep forensics 

Violent parasomnias and sleep forensics
Chapter:
Violent parasomnias and sleep forensics
Author(s):

Michel A. Cramer Bornemann

, and Mark R. Pressman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199682003.003.0052
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date: 20 February 2020

Parasomnias are complex behaviors occurring out of or during sleep. Parasomnias are increasingly presented as proof of an automatism in criminal cases involving violence. The sleep forensics expert must have an up-to-date understanding of current sleep science and research, diagnostic and clinical techniques, and the legal requirements of expert testimony and scientific evidence. Sleepwalking and related disorders typically follow sudden, partial awakenings from deep sleep. Higher-level cognition is severely limited or absent, and complex behaviors often consist of “automatic” behaviors not initiated or guided by memory or planning. Sleepwalking and related disorders are noted to occur during deep sleep and often require a genetic predisposition or priming factors. Prior cases of sleepwalking violence find that the victim of sleepwalking violence—most often a family member—seeks out the sleepwalker. The history of sleepwalking includes reports of episodes and sometimes criminal court cases of murder, assault, and rape.

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