Vol. 4, No. 3, 1998 Page 2&3


Some normally nonviolent in-dividuals exhibit bizarre and frightening aggression following epileptic seizures. In an attempt to learn more about what prompts this behavior, M. Elizabeth Gerard and colleagues combed their database of 1,300 patients and identified six who experienced post-seizure aggressive episodes. Among the patients they studied:

The six patients they studied, Gerard et al. say, showed no consistent pattern of age, seizure cause, or right-left seizure focus. However, some common patterns emerged. All of the patients were male, and the researchers note that in all cases, "the episodes of post-ictal aggression were not isolated events, but recurred repeatedly," with symptoms unique to each patient. In addition, the aggressive episodes tended to follow clusters of seizures, rather than single seizures. Furthermore, all of the patients had intractable epilepsy, and in all cases, aggressive episodes occurred within three days of the last seizure.

The researchers note that five of the patients had no memory of their aggressive acts, and that "all of the patients were remorseful about their behaviors" following attacks. Four of the patients exhibited no mental disorders between attacks, while two had psychiatric disorders.

Gerard and colleagues say that post-seizure aggression, while rare, "appears to be a true clinical entity with several consistently observed manifestations." Similar behavior, they note, can be induced in rats with kindled seizures in the amygdala.


"Subacute postictal aggression," M. Elizabeth Gerard, Mark C. Spitz, John A. Towbin, and Dianne Shantz, Neurology, Vol. 50, No. 2, February 1998, pp. 384-388. Address: Mark C. Spitz, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, B- 150, Denver, CO 80262.

Related Article: [2003, Vol. 9]

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