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Amnesia for the perpetration of violent offences is an important issue in medico-legal proceedings. Previous studies of amnesia have mainly relied on selected groups of unconvicted offenders, which raises the question of how reliable the findings are. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and phenomenological qualities of amnesia in violent offenders. In semi-structured interviews with 105 young offenders convicted of serious violence, 20 (19%) reported partial amnesia for their offence and only one (1%) reported complete amnesia. Amnesia was associated with high alcohol intake, emotional ties to the victim, and cognitive processing during the assault. Complete amnesia for violent crime appears to be less frequent than suggested by previous reports using unconvicted samples. The findings have implications for the clinical assessment of claimed amnesia for violent crime and are potentially of medico-legal significance.

Original publication




Journal article


J Forens Psychiatry Psychol

Publication Date





85 - 106