Informations and abstract
Keywords: Forensic Neuroscience; Acquired Pedophilia; Free Will; Responsibility; Neuropsychological Assessment.
This essay emphasizes how the neurosciences can help to discriminate criminals who should be considered responsible for their actions from criminals who shouldn't. We introduce the concepts of "responsibility" and "free will" in light of the latest neuro-scientific theory, and then highlight that, in forensic settings, incompetency or diminished responsibility require a causal link between a pathological mental state and criminal behavior. This article will focus on a clinical case of acquired pedophilia involving a pediatrician charged with pedophilia. An MRI revealed a big neoplasm that displaced the pituitary gland and compressed the orbitofrontal cortex, the optic chiasm, and the hypothalamus. The pedophilic behavior receded following tumor resection. We conclude that his criminal behavior was the result of uncontrollable symptoms, so he has to be considered not responsible. We emphasize that the neurosciences in the courtroom might offer the possibility to prove the existence of an altered state of mind, which, however, "must" be demonstrated by standard clinical, psychiatric, and/or neuropsychological assessment.