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Was That Really Me? 3 Brain Problems That Can Cause A Normally Lawful Person To Break Bad

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Although we are far away from having a complete understanding of the brain, we do know that damage to certain areas of the brain can markedly and disturbingly change a person's beliefs, actions, impulses and behaviors. There are many different ailments and disorders that can produce a rapid change in a person's actions and personality. When a person becomes afflicted by one of these many problems, they may find themselves in legal trouble that their friends or family members never could have anticipated.


Not all brain tumors, benign or malignant, will cause overreaching personality changes. However, if the brain tumor is applying pressure to specific brain areas, especially an area like the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for monitoring impulses, social behavior and personality formation, a tumor can cause chaotic changes to a person and their actions

People with prefrontal tumors can be acting erratically and impulsively with little thought to the consequences of their actions. Lack of impulse control may result in increased violent reactions, shoplifting, or inappropriate touching of strangers.  After the first incident, they may realize what they did was wrong, but be unable to take steps to prevent unlawful or negative behaviors from happening again. If left untreated negative behaviors can escalate to a point where a person finds themselves arrested.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when a person receives a violent blow to their head. TBIs can be caused by car accidents, falls, or fights. Not all TBIs result in major personality changes. If the TBI is innocuous enough, it will only cause slight confusion and memory problems for a short time. More potent injuries can injure the brain in such a way that a person's personality and behavior completely changes.

Someone who has fallen victim to a severe TBI can see their personality change from being a person able to handle their emotions and impulses to someone who is highly volatile, prone to violence and emotional upheaval.

Inappropriate sexual behavior and heightened aggressiveness due to a TBI can result in an individual acting out publicly in ways that are not only socially inappropriate, but illegal, as well.

Alzheimer Disease

If you have never known anyone with Alzheimers disease you might think of it as a disorder that only causes problems with memory. However, there are many more symptoms and problems that arise from having Alzheimers.

Although there probably won't be any huge personality changes in personality in a person with early stage Alzheimers, as the disease gets worse, the potential for personality changes starts to increase.

People with late stage Alzheimers often are quick to anger and constantly frustrated due to their inability to remember things, do simple tasks, or remain in a lucid state. Their aggressive nature, coupled with a declining ability to control their impulses, can result in violent encounters. Alzheimers also creates difficulties in recognizing proper social behaviors, which can lead to a person with Alzheimers acting out socially in ways that could get them arrested. They may grab people inapproriately or make lewd comments in public loudly.

If you have someone close to you undergo a rapid change in personality and behavior, it could be related to a disorder or disease of the brain. If they find themselves in legal trouble due to these personality changes, there are many reputable, highly qualified practicing neuroscientists who can meet with them to provide insight into what is going on, as well as provide expert testimony in the event of a trial. Not only will a neuroscientist—like those found at—be able to get to the root of the personality changes, but they can be an invaluable resources when dealing with the law