The traumatic brain injury association with career criminality withstands powerful confounds

Authored by: Monic P. Behnken , Matt DeLisi , Chad R. Trulson , Michael G. Vaughn

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749


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The association between a traumatic brain injury and behavior is well known to psychology and neurology students in the case of Phineas Gage. On September 13, 1848, Gage was injured in a railroad accident when a tamping iron blasted through his face and exited his head. Despite losing consciousness and suffering heavy bleeding, Gage miraculously not only survived the blast, but appeared to recover quickly. However, the accident caused a dramatic personality transformation of Gage from a hard-working, responsible, intelligent, prudent, and socially well adjusted person to an irreverent, impulsive, capricious, rowdy, irresponsible person whose life devolved into that of a drifter. Subsequent research of Gage’s skull revealed that his injuries were consistent with persons with similar injuries who display similar impairments in rational decision making and emotional processing (Damasio et al., 1994; also see Van Horn et al., 2012)—a neuropsychological profile of crime.

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