23 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 215 (1999-2000)
Urban Survival Syndrome: Novel Concept or Recognized Defense

handle is hein.journals/amjtrad23 and id is 225 raw text is: Urban Survival Syndrome:
Novel Concept or Recognized Defense?
I. Introduction
The woman who wanted to move into our building was asked if she ever
worked late. We weren't being nosy,just trying to let her know that it might
not be safe to walk through downtown Washington alone at night. When
the woman replied that sometimes she did work late, an older woman on our
housing co-op board offered some advice.
I always take an umbrella, whether it's going to rain or not, she said.
And as I walk, I swing it, she added, moving her arm back and forth as
if swinging a sword.
Oh, I'm careful, the younger woman replied, I always check to see
ifsomeone is following me, and I'm usually carrying this, she said, pointing
to a hefty backpack. I can swing it pretty hard.
I recently learned that there is a phrase for this kind of behavior: urban
survival syndrome.'
In recent decades, criminal defendants have proffered numerous
psychological theories to explain, justify, excuse, mitigate, or prove what
appears to be criminal behavior. Although some categorize these theories
as mind science,' most of the theories have been labeled as syn-
dromes,3 while others are considered variations of a current defense such
'Courtland Milloy, Self-Defense Goes Insane in the City, WASH. POST, May 18,
1994, at DOI.
2 See, e.g., Patricia J. Falk, Novel Theories of Criminal Defenses Based Upon the
Toxicity of the Social Environment: Urban Psychosis, Television Intoxication, and
Black Rage, 14 N.C. L. REv. 731, 731 (1996) (describing theories as new windows
into the criminal mind).
'Rape Trauma Syndrome was one of the first theories recognized. See, e.g., Wally
Owens, Note, State v. Osby, The Urban SurvivalDefense, 22 AM. J. GRIM. L. 809,812
(1995) (citing Charles Bleil, Evidence ofSyndromes: No Need for a Better Mouse-
trap , 32 S. TEX. L. REv. 37, 40 (1990)); see also PAUL C. GIANNELLI & EDWARD. J.
IMWINKELREID, SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE § 9-4, at 277-81 (2d ed. 1993) (explaining that
Rape Trauma Syndrome was first introduced in 1974 and describing the behavioral,
somatic, and psychological reactions of rape and attempted rape victims). Other well
known theories are battered woman syndrome and child sexual abuse syndrome. See,
e.g., LENORE E. WALKER, THE BATTERED WOMAN (1979); David McCord, Expert
Psychological Testimony About Child Complaints in Sexual Abuse Prosecutions: A

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