J. J. Zarranz Imirizaldu Neurosciences and History 2020;8(2):49-55
Type of article: ORIGINAL
J. J. Zarranz Imirizaldu Emeritus chair. Department of Neuroscience. Universidad del País Vasco. Instituto de Investigación BIOCRUCES, Baracaldo, Vizcaya, Spain.
Introduction. Patients with epilepsy have been the victims of extreme prejudice throughout history, particularly regarding the alleged link between their disease and violence and crime. Dr López Albo and his contemporary Dr Lafora were both disciples of Achúcarro and took exile in Mexico following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
Methods. This study analyses the articles by López Albo and by Lafora on murders committed during crepuscular states.
Results. During his exile, Lafora was asked to write a report on the first serial murderer in Mexican history, who killed four women. The case had a huge media, social, and political impact in Mexico, but is little known in Spain. In line with the prevailing ideas of the day, Dr Lafora considered the murderer to present psychic epilepsy, committing his crimes during an epileptic crepuscular state, and recommended that he be ruled exempt from criminal responsibility. During his productive early period in Bilbao, Dr López Albo published a brief article, also little-known, on a murder committed by a patient with epilepsy during a psychotic post-ictal crepuscular state.
Discussion. Both articles are analysed from the perspective of today’ s understanding of the relationship between violent or criminal behaviour and epilepsy.