Excited delirium is a term for a condition that’s said to result in a person exhibiting extremely agitated and aggressive behavior, often in relation to drug use or mental illness. However, there is not broad consensus about the definition of excited delirium, and it has not been universally accepted as a genuine medical condition. Still, it is used by some emergency medical practitioners and medical examiners, who sometimes list it as an official cause of death. Many civil rights advocates and medical professionals strongly object to the use of the term, with some rejecting it as unscientific. The term has been specifically criticized as being used by police to excuse the use of excessive force during arrests. Because many of these cases involve the arrest of Black people, critics have cited it as an example of systemic racism. In 2021, excited delirium—and the debate surrounding it—gained wider attention when the term was prominently mentioned in the criminal trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, whose killing sparked international protests against racism and police brutality. Excited delirium is sometimes called excited delirium syndrome or agitated delirium.
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