Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mad science: How'd you sleep?

What Horror Movie Are We Today? We're "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari."

The Mind Hacks blog has a link to a study titled "Potentially Lethal Behaviors Associated With Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder: Review of the Literature and Forensic Implications." In plain English, the study reviews nearly 40 cases of potentially murderous and suicidal sleepwalking behavior. The Journal of Forensic Sciences article is behind a paywall, but Mind Hacks teases out some of the cases:

A 63-year-old man with RBD and delayed-onset Shy-Drager Syndrome reported "a progressive 10-year history of abnormal behavior during sleep. He would at various times choke, kick, punch, and spit on his wife while he was asleep. In addition, complex behaviors such as getting out of bed and running into walls while asleep were reported by family members. This behavior occurred while the patient was dreaming, usually of being attacked.

A 67-year-old man had a 3-year history of progressive stiffness and slowing of his left side. Five years before the onset of these symptoms, he began having vivid dreams together with violent movements during sleep. Once he dreamed of being trapped in a house on fire, and he almost jumped out of the window, if not for his wife awakening and restraining him.

A 25-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis "presented with a 6-month history of sudden awakenings from fearful, often vivid…dreams and with terrified screams or violent behavior such as kicking, running to the door or to the window, crying and falling out of bed. If awakened, she always recalled a fighting dream. Once she repetitively banged her head against the floor, inducing a large facial hematoma. On that occasion, she was dreaming that a man was knocking her against the wall.

The post also points to a case where a person accused of homicide and attempted homicide won an acquittal by claiming the acts were committed in their sleep.


zoe said...

yummy, a favorite topic :D

i bet you would like this recording of mike birbiglia, he makes the story of his difficulties with just such a sleeping disorder hysterical:

it's the first part of the podcast.
enjoy :)

Sasquatchan said...

demon possession. I mean, modern science has taken all the fun out of it. Give me an old-time in/succubus for the real fun.

zoe said...

true, the explanations are sterile and sadly limited. but the stories are still good...