Brain Overclaim Syndrome and Criminal Responsibility: A Diagnostic Note

17 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2006

See all articles by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School


This brief diagnostic note identifies a cognitive pathology, Brain Overclaim Syndrome [BOS], that often afflicts those inflamed by the fascinating new discoveries in the neurosciences. It begins by suggesting how one should think about the relation of neuroscience (or any other material explanation of human behavior) to criminal responsibility, distinguishing between internal and external critiques based on neuroscience. It then describes the signs and symptoms of BOS, the essential feature of which is to make claims about the implications of neuroscience for criminal responsibility that cannot be conceptually or empirically sustained. It then applies the diagnostic lens of BOS to the claims in Roper v. Simmons. Finally, the article recommends Cognitive Jurotherapy [CJ] as the therapy of choice for BOS.

Keywords: Brain Overclaim Syndrome, neuroscience, criminal responsibility, Roper v. Simmons, Cognitive Jurotherapy

Suggested Citation

Morse, Stephen J., Brain Overclaim Syndrome and Criminal Responsibility: A Diagnostic Note. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 3, p. 397, 2006, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 06-35, Available at SSRN:

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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