The role of head injury in cognitive functioning, emotional adjustment and criminal behaviour

Brain Inj. 1998 Oct;12(10):821-42. doi: 10.1080/026990598122061.


In two investigations, 50% of non-violent convicted felons, who avoided incarceration by participating in a day reporting programme, reported a prior history of head injury and current problems in cognitive and emotional functioning. Only 5% of a college sample in the first investigation and 15% of a community sample in the second investigation reported prior head injury. In a third investigation, 83% of felons who had reported a history of head injury also reported a date for their head injury that preceded the date of their first encounter with law enforcement. Some participants reported no trouble with the law until after experiencing a head injury that occurred in their late thirties. Considering the research reported here and elsewhere in the literature, it appears that many serious crimes follow a head injury. One implication of the findings reported here is that many crimes might not occur if people with head injury were given prompt and comprehensive treatment after the injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Day Care, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Indiana / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Reference Values
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational
  • Risk Factors