Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Irresistible Impulse

  • Nathalie DeFabriqueEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_998


Diminished responsibility; “Heat of the moment”


Irresistible impulse is considered a defense similar to that of the insanity defense. It is typically utilized when a defendant argues that they should not be held criminally liable for their actions. The claim is that the defendant broke the law because they could not control their actions. Irresistible impulse can be pleaded only under the defense of diminished responsibility, not under the defense of insanity. The defense can bring a murder charge and reducing the charge to manslaughter. In addition, it provides the judge discretion as to length of sentence and whether committal would be more appropriate than incarceration. In criminal law, diminished responsibility can be used as a defense to claim that although a defendant broke the law their mental functions were impaired and so they should not be held liable.


References and Readings

  1. Denney, R. L. (2005). Criminal responsibility and other criminal forensic issues. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: A scientific approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Denney, R. L., & Wynkoop, T. F. (2000). Clinical neuropsychology in the criminal forensic setting. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 15, 804–828.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Goldstein, A. M., Morese, S. J., & Shapiro, D. L. (2003). Evaluation of criminal responsibility. In A. Goldstein (Ed.), Handbook of psychology: Forensic psychology (Vol. 11). Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cook County Department of CorrectionsChicagoUSA