Definition of SOMNAMBULISM,


SOMNAMBULISM,

med. juris. Sleep walking.


2. This is sometimes an inferior species of insanity, the patient being
unconscious of what he is doing. A case is mentioned of a monk who was
remarkable for simplicity, candor and probity, while awake, but who during his
sleep in the night, would steal, rob, and even plunder the dead. Another case
is related of a pious clergyman, who during his sleep, would plunder even his
own church. And a case occurred in Maine, where the somnambulist attempted to
hang himself, but fortunately tied the rope to his feet, instead of his neck.
Ray. Med. Jur. §294.


3. It is evident, that if an act should be done by a sleep walker,
while totally unconscious of his act, he would not be liable to punishment,
because the intention (q. v.) and will (q. v.) would be wanting. Take, for
example, the following singular case: A monk late one evening, in the presence
of the prior of the convent, while in a state of somnambulism, entered the room
of the prior, his eyes open but fixed, his features contracted into a frown,
and with a knife in his hand. He walked straight up to the bed, as if to
ascertain if the prior were there, and then gave three stabs, which penetrated
the bed clothes, and a mat which served for the purpose of a mattress; he
returned. with an air of satisfaction, and his features relaxed. On being
questioned the next day by the prior as to what he had dreamed the preceding
night, the monk confessed he had dreamed that his mother had been murdered by
the prior, and that her spirit had appeared to him and cried for vengeance,
that he was transported with fury at the sight, and ran directly to stab the
assassin; that shortly after be awoke covered with perspiration, and rejoiced
to find it was only a dream. Georget, Des Maladies Mentales, 127.


4. A similar case occurred in England, in the last century. Two
persons, who had been hunting in the day, slept together at night; one of them
was renewing the chase in his dream, and, imagining himself present at the
death of the stag, cried out aloud, "I~ll kill him! I~ll kill him!" The other,
awakened by the noise, got out of bed, and, by the light of the moon, saw the
sleeper give several deadly stabs, with a knife, on the part of the bed his
companion had just quitted. Harvey~s Meditations on the Night, note 35; Guy,
Med. Jur. 265.


SON, kindred. An immediate male descendant. In its technical meaning in
devises, this is a word of purchase, but the testator may make it a word of
descent. Sometimes it is extended to more remote descendants.




Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition

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