‘Excited delirium’: term linked to police restraint condemned

police batonsource: The Guardian
published: 1 July 2021

Public health bodies, charities and the families of men who died after being restrained by police have condemned the inclusion of a controversial medical term in one of the UK’s leading medical handbooks.

Acute behavioural disturbance (ABD), more commonly known as “excited delirium”, a contentious expression used in fatal cases of police violence, has recently been added to the Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines (MPG).

The term, which divides the medical community, was recently mentioned in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former US police officer found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, although it was not a key part of the evidence.

It has been argued that the term carries racial biases and is often used to justify lethal use of force by police, disproportionately against black men. It has previously been used in many court cases to describe individuals who become agitated or distressed after using drugs or during a mental health episode. In some instances, those described as experiencing “excited delirium” are perceived to exhibit higher pain thresholds and unusual levels of strength.

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