Somnambulism

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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. Sec. 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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nic Cage walks through this like a somnambulist, while Julianne Moore looks as if she's about to burst into tears
The same year that she finished "Flowering Judas," she wrote the poem "Night-Blooming Cereus," in which "Upborne by savage dark thorns the paper-lace dramatic flower/Spins in the winds, a dancing somnambulist." How much more difficult the image becomes here, how much more tortured the poetic devices ("flower" is later prosaically rhymed with "hour," "somnambulist" hyperbolically with the "great fist/of blackness ...").
As Joe, Michel Bell sails through "Ol' Man River" with enough volume to be heard on the Mississippi Delta, but he moves like a somnambulist, a basso trying too hard to be profundo.
This was followed by Sylvester Sound the Somnambulist, a comic novel, his second most popular work.
Volitions enter into Moore's discussion of a putative problem about somnambulist behavior (and the like),(54) which we touched on under actus rei above.
He soon learns that this man, Clithero Edny, a servant at Inglefield's nearby farm, is both a foreigner and a somnambulist. Suspicious that Edny has murdered Waldegrave, Huntly keeps him under surveillance for a few days, determined to accost him, yet hesitating.
A serious painter works all the time, like a somnambulist. It is about arranging your life in order to have enough time to work.
Caligari (Daamen Krall), a sideshow charlatan, and Cesare (Doug Jones), a homicidal somnambulist. "Appears," that is, because, as in the original, the "surprise ending" reveals the nominal hero really is a patient in an insane asylum, and his narrative nothing more than a paranoid fantasy.
A chap who drove his BMW across a dual carriageway and into a tree was found not guilty of motoring offences because he pleaded a somnambulist defence.
The film repeatedly gives the audience clues as to the liminal nature of its reality, but the power of the film rests on its ability to portray the unconscious world as activist-oriented, by contrast especially to the somnambulist alienation which characterizes Ed Norton's "real" job and lifestyle.
While Antonia was still alive Krespel had told the narrator that the violin, which he calls "this dead thing [dies tote Ding]," gets its life and voice from him--actually, he says he himself first gave it life and voice, as if he were the creator God--and, though apparently inanimate and dumb, the violin acts as if it were animated: it speaks often by itself to him in a wonderful way, like a somnambulist who reveals her inner visions, imparting them in words [sie selbstattig ihre innere Anschauung in Worten verkundet] (175; 38).