Traumatic brain injury: a potential cause of violent crime?

Lancet Psychiatry. 2018 Oct;5(10):836-844. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30062-2. Epub 2018 Feb 26.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the biggest cause of death and disability in children and young people. TBI compromises important neurological functions for self-regulation and social behaviour and increases risk of behavioural disorder and psychiatric morbidity. Crime in young people is a major social issue. So-called early starters often continue for a lifetime. A substantial majority of young offenders are reconvicted soon after release. Multiple factors play a role in crime. We show how TBI is a risk factor for earlier, more violent, offending. TBI is linked to poor engagement in treatment, in-custody infractions, and reconviction. Schemes to assess and manage TBI are under development. These might improve engagement of offenders in forensic psychotherapeutic rehabilitation and reduce crime.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / complications*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / mortality
  • Child
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Criminals / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Personality Development
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult