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TBI a Risk Factor in Why People Snap and Kill

June 8, 2009 by Steven M. Gursten

You’d think a traumatic brain injury lawyer from Michigan wouldn’t be so wrapped up in crime, but I came across this intriguing CNN story that unfortunately, links TBI and violence together: Insights on why people ‘snap’ and kill.

The article starts by outlining a couple of sudden, murderous rampages across the country, such as that of a University of Georgia professor, who shot and killed his wife and two other adults in late April. It went on to explain that psychiatrists have some sense of why some people “snap” and become violent. I want to share this because many of my clients have sustained mild traumatic brain injury from car accidents.

Acording to CNN:

“Studies have shown that brain injury increases the risk of violent and aggressive behavior. Damage or abnormalities in the frontal lobe — a brain area that regulates movement, inhibition, emotions and general behaviors — has been linked to violent behavior. A 2007 study from the American Journal of Psychiatry found an association between violence and cortical thinning in some areas of the frontal lobe.

Damage to the brain’s temporal lobe, which contains structures involved in fear response, has also been suggested to have a connection to violence. “If a person has damage to the frontal or the temporal lobe, perhaps they cannot identify or evaluate the fear appropriately, and perhaps their response is of a more physical nature,” (Dr. Roland Segal, a forensic psychiatrist in Phoenix, Arizona) said.”

The CNN article also said schizophrenia, brain tumors, seizures, alcohol and drug abuse are risk factors; and other warning signs include feelings of hopelessness and shame. This information backs up what our TBI attorneys say about behavioral symptoms of TBI on our Web site: Behavioral deficits of traumatic brain injury include decreased ability to initiate responses, verbal and physical aggression, agitation, learning difficulties, shallow self-awareness, altered sexual functioning, impulsivity and social dis-inhibition. Mood disorders, personality changes, altered emotional control, depression and anxiety are also prevalent with traumatic brain injury from a car accident.

If warning signs are strong, the person with TBI should be taken to the emergency room.

Steve Gursten is a member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Group and lectures on TBI throughout the country. He was recently invited to become the first Michigan traumatic brain injury lawyer to serve on the legal committee for the Sarah Jane Brain Project, a foundation that aims to create a model system for all children suffering from pediatric acquired brain injuries. In 2008, Steve received a trial verdict of $5.65 million for a TBI victim; the largest reported auto negligence verdict in Michigan for the year according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

— Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Beard Papa

Related information:

Steps Michigan TBI Victims Must Take Following a Car Accident

Links for Michigan TBI Lawyers and Auto Accident Victims

How TBI Victims in Michigan and Reach a Jury and Secure Justice

Documenting Traumatic Brain Injury

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. For more information, please refer to our law firm quick facts.

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