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J Forensic Sci. 2002 Sep;47(5):1083-9.

PMS, psychosis and culpability: sound or misguided defense?

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  • 1The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, New York, USA.


Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is believed to affect up to 90% of women of reproductive age. A small subset of women have been identified who actually experience psychotic symptoms in the premenstrual phase of their cycles. Not surprisingly, PMS has made it into the courts where it has been offered as a defense for criminal acts. The defense has generally fared poorly in the United States, although it has been successfully used as a factor in supporting diminished capacity in Great Britain. The following paper sets out to review the medical literature on premenstrual syndrome with a particular focus on premenstrual psychosis. Available literature from both medical and legal sources is then utilized to investigate instances in which premenstrual psychosis has been invoked as a defense in the courts.

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