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Head and Brain Injuries can lead to crime

03 January 2012

Dawn Slow a Head and Brain Injury specialist from Harvey Ingram LLP considers the real life impact brain injuries can have on a personal ability to differentiate between right and wrong -

I am not at all surprised to find that a survey carried out by British and Swedish scientists reported on Yahoo News recently ( ) has found that people who have suffered brain injury are more likely to perpetrate violent crimes.  Of the symptoms that are typical in people who have suffered such injuries the inability to control emotions is one of the most regularly seen as is the inability to control inhibitions. 

If a person does not have control over their emotions they are more likely to completely lose their temper in an argument and they would not be able to control themselves if there was a knife nearby and could use that knife to lash out at the person they are arguing with.  Also if a person is disinhibited they are more likely to get into an argument in the first place because they will often say things that are very forthright and blunt which will anger those to whom the comments are directed. 

In addition the disinhibition may be sexual in that a person with a brain injury may not be able to determine what is and is not appropriate behaviour and is more likely to do something that is sexually and socially unacceptable.  All of these symptoms of a brain injury make such a person more likely to be arrested for many types of crime of a violent or sexual nature. 

Unfortunately they will also be charged with those offences and quite often imprisoned for them when in actual fact the person concerned was not able to control their emotions or actions for medical reasons and therefore would not knowingly have committed any offence and would often not understand what they had done wrong even after they are charged. 

Many people with brain injuries who find themselves charged with a violent or sexual crime that carries with it a prison sentence, in reality need to be cared for properly in the community.  Prison will not help them at all as they cannot learn that what they have done is wrong as the part of the brain that would allow them to learn this has been irreparably damaged and put simply as the brain cannot repair itself the lesson will never be learned.

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