Potentially lethal behaviors associated with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder: Review of the literature and forensic implications

Carlos H. Schenck, Samuel Adams Lee, Michel A Cramer Bornemann, Mark W. Mahowald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is characterized by loss of the muscle atonia of REM sleep, with release of complex and violent behaviors that are often attempted dream-enactments. This study reviewed the literature on RBD with regard to potentially lethal behavior. A total of 39-41 clinical cases of RBD associated with potentially lethal behaviors to self and/or others were found, involving a child and adults of all age groups, that manifested as choking/headlock (n = 22-24), defenestration/near-defenestration (n = 7), and diving from bed (n = 10). A total of 80.8% (n = 21) were males; 19.2% (n = 5) were females; mean age was 65.6 ± (SD) 13.8 years (range: 27-81 years, and a child). (Gender/age data were not listed in the remaining cases.) An etiologic association of RBD with a neurologic disorder (or with pharmacotherapy of psychiatric disorders, n = 4) was present in 21-23 patients. Thus, RBD carries well-documented, potential forensic consequences during RBD episodes that could possibly have been misinterpreted as suicidal or homicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1484
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Volume54
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009

Keywords

  • Forensic science
  • Forensic sleep medicine/parasomnia pseudo-suicide
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Parasomnia
  • Polysomnography
  • Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep related injury/sleep violence

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Potentially lethal behaviors associated with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder: Review of the literature and forensic implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this