The occurrence of cadaveric spasm is a myth

Paul J Bedford, Michael Tsokos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Cadaveric spasm relates to the concept of the instantaneous appearance of rigidity in a deceased body. Articles referring to this phenomenon are widespread in the literature with an emphasis on the grasping or gripping of objects especially relating to gunshot suicide deaths. Other examples of the presence of objects in the hand are discussed with a background of drowning, sharp force injuries, electrocution and injectable drug overdose. Famous forensic cases such as the Brides in the Bath murders have relevance as one of the victims apparently retained soap in their hand. Other stories of unusual positions of the body, suggestive of instantaneous rigor, are encountered in war and in the bodies of victims of the Mt Vesuvius eruption in AD79. Some more recent cases where objects have been identified in the hand of the deceased will be shown and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244 - 248
Number of pages5
JournalForensic Science, Medicine and Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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