A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Side Effects

To Sleep, Perchance To…Murder?

By Nicole Rowlands

Think of the oddest thing you’ve ever done in your sleep. Perhaps you’ve murmured. Babbled. Yelled. Maybe you’ve even sleepwalked.

But I bet you didn’t climb a 13-story crane like a teenage girl did in London in 2005, only to be found later curled up fast asleep on the crane by a passerby. And you probably didn’t jump out of a four-story building – found hours later still sleeping. Even a broken arm and leg didn’t wake up this 17-year-old boy from Demmin, Germany. And I know you never had “sleep sex” like the middle-aged married woman in Australia in 2004 who frequently left her home and had sex with random strangers. (I’m not sure this woman was really sleeping, actually, but her husband seemed to believe her).

Destructive and unpredictable behavior has been known to happen during an otherwise good night’s rest. Take homicidal somnambulism, for example, the medical term for committing or attempting to commit murder in one’s sleep.

A recent film, “Side Effects”, directed by Steven Soderbergh, centers on a woman who kills her husband while sleepwalking, in an apparent reaction to a medication she was prescribed by her psychiatrist.

Emily Taylor (played by Rooney Mara) and her husband Martin (played by Channing Tatum) are finally reunited after his four-year prison term for insider trading. But things are not the same as they were before his arrest. Whereas Emily is seen in flashbacks as playful and full of life, she is now listless and depressed. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (played by Jude Law) prescribes Zoloft but when that doesn’t work, he proposes a new antidepressant, Ablixa (that only exists for the purposes of the film). Her life (and sex life) are clearly reinvigorated, and though she has some episodes of sleepwalking, it’s nothing that Dr. Banks is too concerned about.

Until Emily stabs her husband while in her sleep.

That people commit murder in their sleep – and then get away with it at trial – is discussed as fact in the film.  Is that true?  LASIS investigated and found: it sure is.

(more…)

Comments

6 Comments »