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J Law Med. 2012 Jun;19(4):667-72.

Excited delirium syndrome: a political diagnosis?

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Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University.


"Excited delirium" has become increasingly recognised as a medical entity that is typically associated with individuals suffering from a mental illness and/or affected by a variety of stimulant-type drugs. Because the diagnostic label has been used in association with situations of violence on the part of the person affected, and this has included circumstances where chemical and electrical as well as physical restraint has been applied by law enforcement personnel, the diagnostic entity has come to be reviewed by a variety of courts and tribunals. There is considerable debate in medical circles as to the scientific validity of such a "diagnosis" but there appears to be some medical and therapeutic value in clustering the relevant signs and symptoms under such a label. At the same time, using such a term in relation to deaths associated with circumstances where individuals are restrained could be seen as a way of deflecting the investigation of such deaths away from the actions of law enforcement personnel.

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