Philosophy Colloquium: Robert Skipper, "PMS and Criminal Responsibility"

Event Date

For this week's Colloquium, Professor Robert Skipper from the University of Cincinnati will be giving a talk titled, "PMS and Criminal Responsibility."
Here is the abstract to this week's Colloquium:
PMS and Criminal Responsibility
Robert Skipper
Department of Philosophy
University of Cincinnati
During two weeks every month, friends and family describe twenty-four year old Amy as cheerful, realistic, rational, and able to socialize with others. During the next two weeks, she is very different. She is angry, manipulative, unstable, depressed, belligerent, and assaultive. Medical and psychiatric evaluations revealed that during these latter two weeks, Amy reported marked anxiety, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, suicidal ideation, and feeling overwhelmed and out of control. She was arrested for assaulting one of her physicians. Amy was subsequently diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a psychiatric disorder that is an extreme form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a constellation of symptoms a large proportion of cycling women experience between ovulation and menstruation.
Medical and psychiatric disorders are sometimes used as legal defenses to mitigate criminal behavior or to mitigate sentencing. Do PMS/PMDD qualify? In fact, PMS has excused criminal behavior in a handful of legal cases. PMDD, as it is currently understood, has not been tested. Can Amy use PMDD to mitigate her assault? Should PMS/PMDD be recognized as legitimate legal defenses of criminal behavior?