Are Traumatic Brain Injuries and Criminal Behavior Linked?

Millions of people suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) each year, causing tens of thousands to die and many others to have their lives dramatically altered. Although these injuries can affect people in numerous ways–from physical disabilities to cognitive difficulties–recent studies have highlighted the troubling fact that traumatic brain injuries may be linked to the development of deviant, or criminal, behavior.

Facts About TBI and Criminal Behavior

While many people are aware that personality and mood changes can result from TBI, medical professionals and researchers have only recently uncovered a link between traumatic brain injuries and deviant behavior. Some facts regarding this link include:

  • Psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis found that all the death row inmates who participated in her mid-1980s study had previously sustained traumatic brain injuries
  • Numerous studies have shown that traumatic brain injuries often decrease a person’s control, causing him or her to act out or become deviant
  • Traumatic brain injuries often lead to mental disorders or problems like paranoia that can later result in violent behavior

In his 2003 article in Medical Ethics, Vol. 10, Issue 3, William J. Winslade, professor at the Institute for the Medical Humanities University of Texas Medical Branch, states that people who are the victims of traumatic brain injuries often suffer from serious consequences that can have devastating effects on both their lives and the lives of others.

Sadly, many traumatic brain injuries are the result of people’s negligent actions rather than sheer accidents. In situations such as the former, the party responsible for the injury might be held legally accountable for their actions by the victim and his or her personal injury lawyer. Whether a person who has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury has become violent in the wake of his or her injury or has suffered other effects, the victim and his or her family should not have to bear the burden of the TBI alone.