Thursday, November 8, 2012

Brain trials

A reader sent me this article from a legal publication regarding the use of neuroscience evidence in the courtroom. I've discussed before about how the diagnosis of psychopath is often used in parole hearings as an argument against granting the prisoner parole (see also this NPR article about a prisoner named Robert Dixon). This article was a fun read because it uses stories that illustrate the difficulties well:


Take the case of a 40-year-old married schoolteacher from Virginia who during the year 2000 inexplicably began to have a sexual interest in children. He surreptitiously collected and viewed child porn on the Internet and was convicted of trying to molest his stepdaughter. The night before sentencing, he complained of horrible headaches. At the hospital he talked of suicide, made sexual advances to staff, spoke of raping his landlady and urinated on himself.

An MRI revealed that the teacher had a large orbitofrontal tumor, a growth on an area of his brain associated with social behavior. After surgeons removed the tumor, he was no longer considered a threat and completed a sexual rehab program. But a year later, he began getting headaches and once again collected pornography. Another MRI showed the tumor had regrown, and it was removed again.

Dr. Russell Swerdlow, a neurologist who treated the teacher at the hospital and later wrote about the case in the Archives of Neurology, says that such radical behavioral changes are not surprising. “But it was the first case in which the bad behavior was pedophilia,” says Swerdlow, a neuro-scientist and professor at the University of Kansas. “What was so striking about this was his inability to act on his knowledge of what was right or wrong.”

Swerdlow says when pathways are broken between the orbitofrontal lobe and the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in emotional responses and decision-making, the result can be impulsive behavior. “You don’t get the feedback that controls your decisions. You don’t have the brakes on your behavior,” he says.

Morse says that while the teacher may deserve some mitigation in sentencing because of his ailment, it’s not clear whether he lacked the ability to control his impulses, or simply chose not to. “People want to say his tumor made him do it. He made him do it. There is always a reason people do it,” Morse says. “We don’t give a pass to the other pedophiles. He felt an urge, which he understood and did not resist, but acted on it.”

While it’s true that not everyone who suffers brain damage commits criminal acts, there are plenty of anecdotal cases in medical literature showing that it causes behavioral changes, including impulsiveness, depression, aggression, inappropriate sexual behavior, lack of thought control and violence among people who prior to their injuries did not exhibit such behaviors. But how that should be considered in criminal culpability—and what science can truly explain—remains murky.

I love this story because when you start reading it you think, this poor guy. He's not the one making the decisions, it's his broken brain. Then you get to the part about how we don't give a pass to the other pedophiles and then it becomes clear that this issue is thornier than most people have considered. For instance, lucky you (most of you) to have not been born with a sexual lust for children. But just wait until you get some crazy brain tumor! Then you are truly up Shit Creek.

63 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Have some confidence bitch!

      Delete
  2. Hello beautiful people!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not beautiful

      Delete
    2. That's ok. I'll love you anyway. As long as you do everything I say and fulfill my every desire :)

      Delete
    3. Yes, master. I'll submit to you.

      Delete
    4. That's the spirit!
      You are beautiful to me and I will love you till the stars fall from the sky.
      Now hurry up and get me a fucking beer!

      Delete
  3. Nope, the "poor guy" thought never occurred to me. I agree with Morse .
    OK so he got an urge due to the tumor, or possibly exacerbation of an urge he already had. Whatever the case, he chose to act on it. Which makes him revolting scum.
    Btw, that Shit Creek link was hilarious.

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  4. Replies
    1. Good morning dear Rich. May The Big Real be kind to you today.

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    2. :) Why thank you Lunar!!!!

      How have you been?

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  5. My themes have not been posting. Has anyone had that problem?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It detects shitty music like Skillet, you lying cunt.

      Delete
  6. I stopped Skillet as it came from down on high, CEO. Hello TNP ~

    ReplyDelete
  7. "It's not a tumor… it's not a tumor at all."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what they said when I was born!

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  8. Im getting my brain scanned in some detail letter this month. will look at OFC, amygdala, corpus callosum, and white/grey ratio in particular. anyone know any other interesting bits?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much is the damage costing you?

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    2. volunteered for a psychology experiment...

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  9. @ResCogitans here's something just for you Brain audio facts

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  10. I had an injury to the frontal lobe region when I was a child.

    ReplyDelete
  11. YAY! Bram Stoker's 165th B-day!!!!!!
    (I actually had no idea, just found out from google :D)

    Piles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool, let's celebrate! Meet me in central park at midnight, I'll bring my friends and you bring glasses for their blood, okay?

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    2. FUCK yeah :D!!!! Good ol' creepy ass central park, I love that place! You rock anon elevenzer07!

      Piles

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    3. I just realized that we aren't talking about the same park, so I'm sending my comrades home :(
      Luckily I have some blood left from last year and you can open up a bottle of red wine! Join me in long distance drinking!!! :D

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    4. Lame. We were supposta celebrate like we are vampires at your friends' expense on this day. It's not the same. You ruined it anon twelve oh 6! Go fuck yourself :(

      Piles, the totally devastated Beaver

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    5. Give me another chance! Name a park and we'll do it next year :(
      Yeah my plan was awesome it's too bad that we don't know each other. I would have let you keep their skeletons too (nice addition to your collection)! :)

      Delete
  12. to zoe and lunar from yesterday:

    FUCK YOU :)

    hahahahahahha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nonetheless I will answer zoe's question. 6 billion people is just a thought out number, can't say that for sure.

      What is referring to though, is the number of people that would die if natural selection was doing it's job. bitch!

      Delete
    2. Rembrandt you're such a tool. Amusing tool like one of those over priced Swiss Army knives without the sharpness. Power? You wish. Hahaha! At least you can spell 4 letter words. That's a start.

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    3. You spelled Rembrandt wrong, dumbass.

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    4. TNP he can only spell four letter words correctly. LOL

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    5. Rembrandt correct spelling not Rembrant. I'm an artist by trade and I hate seeing misspellings on masters of iconic art.

      Delete
  13. Yeah, the guy is totally responsible for his actions. If I started having crazy thoughts that were atypical for me and that I knew were reprehensible, you can bet I would go see a doctor to see what the fuck was going on before I found myself a victim of these "uncontrollable" urges. It never occurred to him to seek help?? Please.

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  14. I hate to defend disgusting behavior like this, but obviously the tumor affected the guy. I doubt he spontaneously grew an attraction to little girls, but then again, I'm no neuroscience specialist. More than likely, it shot what little impulse control/conscience that he probably did have.

    He definitely deserves some kind of break. Comparing him to the average paedo is a strawman. It doesn't excuse him completely, but I think this qualifies as some sort of temporary insanity/psychosis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TNP I hate pedophiles. And random small animal killers. Such low lifes really.

      I agree with your assessment.

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  15. ME, there is a big article in New York Magazine on Aspergers. It's on the cover. Here it is.

    http://nymag.com/news/features/autism-spectrum-2012-11/

    <3

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  16. Funny Bit from Raven's LinkNovember 8, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    ... Last October, South Park aired an episode in which the people at an Asperger’s group-therapy center turn out to be faking their symptoms and not even to believe in the reality of the disorder. (Cartman, meanwhile, mishearing Asperger’s as “Ass Burgers,” tries to fake it by stuffing his underwear with hamburgers.) “You’re not autistic,” a doctor tells Hugh Laurie’s abrasive character in an episode of House. “You don’t even have Asperger’s. You wish you did; it would exempt you from the rules, give you freedom, absolve you of responsibility, let you date 17-year-olds. But, most important, it would mean that you’re not just a jerk.”

    ReplyDelete
  17. Raven,
    Thanks for the link. Based on what it says ME appears 80% aspergers 20% sociopath, and you remain as sadistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Raven, are you there ?

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    2. No, she's on a date with Rich. She had him in her chair earlier to clean him up with a shave and haircut.

      Delete
  18. I'm an aspie!!!!

    Piles

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  19. I was in a class once and was up in front of the whole class. After the activity where i was on display and nervous the teacher asked me how anxious i was on a scale of 1-10 or something. I must have looked pretty terrified. Then he asked me to add up numbers in my head up there and it went on into the thousands i think. the other people were surprised and checking if i was right on paper. That is the way to determine how anxious one is? To ask them to add up numbers really fast? And if they do it, it is due to the adrenaline from fear?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your head has momentarily morphed into a super computer.

      Delete
    2. I liked everything about it.

      Delete
  20. I had a psychotic outbreak some months ago, I woke up and I noticed there were not limits and not anxiety, I felt so free, I didn't do anything bad, but I wouldn't mind it, good and bad were just like a foreign religion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. **I wouldn't have minded
      Now I would mind

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    2. How did you get your mind back?

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    3. Antipsychotics. Craziness is amazing, all your beliefs disappear and you can believe in whatever you want(it's not just believing, it's knowing, you change your whole believe system), and your mind shows you what you want to see(or what you don't want if you feel fear), it's like dreaming.
      Pitifully society wants you to live the same reality, even if your delusion makes you happy. I didn't hurt anyone, I just thought I had unlocked something in my brain and I wanted to share it. Among other things, I was able to see 2D drawings in 3D like holograms, it was amazing.

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    4. That is cool. -It is nice to hear someone talk about enjoying being psychotic. I have been, and I also recall things that made me feel magically powerful/special like a superhero.

      I think I did hurt people, but not physically. Though I could have, for sure. There certainly is that superpower factor :O

      When you came down, were you disappointed?




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    5. I haven't been diagnosed yet, they don't think it's psychosis because I recovered too quickly (but I'll be on meds for some months just in case), and yes, I'm disappointed, I feel trapped inside me again, I miss being able to talk without filters, the automatic writting and drawing and seeing in HD. I also miss that magic feeling of 'everything is possible'. I wish I had shut up.

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    6. I also miss being ambidextrous.

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    7. **they don't think it's schizophrenia

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    8. I understand "trapped inside me" after feeling good like that.

      I did love the eye hand coordination and mental speed, and yes the writing and drawing. No editing, like you said. Now if I only had the capacity to induce only certain aspects of psychotic mania...

      I know if I had shut up it would have been disastrous. I do not recommend that.

      Delete

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