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Do traumatic brain injuries lead to decreased sexual inhibitions?

With the recent conviction of Jerry Sandusky on numerous sex crimes, some questions have been raised about what role football and head trauma plays in the suspected commission of criminal sexual conduct. There has been some evidence that indicates that a football player who suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy may have lowered inhibitions, meaning he or she may be more likely to commit a sexual assault that he may not have otherwise committed. Though certainly not all football players will end up committing a sexual assault, it is thought that traumatic brain injuries may make it harder for individuals to resist sexual urges that they had previously kept at bay.

One piece of the research supporting this theory was a 2003 study of pedophilia in men. There were 685 men, both those with pedophilia and those without, who were asked about their injury histories. The scientists found that more people with pedophilia had experienced some kind of head injury prior to age 13 than those who were not diagnosed with pedophilia. Though many football-related brain injuries occur after the age of 13, it is possible that many football players started playing while still young.

There has also been considerable scientific evidence that people with traumatic brain injuries are more likely to have solid control over their sexual impulses than those without. This may mean that someone is hypersexualized or has had his or her inhibitions lowered when it comes to a pre-existing attraction.

It is certainly true that pedophilia is unacceptable in Maryland, but this evidence may indicate that people with pedophilia deserve to be treated more like individuals with traumatic brain injuries than as the hardcore, unfeeling criminals they are often portrayed as in the media. This may mean that people with diagnosed pedophilia receive counseling and therapy instead of prison time.

Source: The Atlantic, "Football and the Sexual Side Effects of Head Trauma," Alice Dreger, July 24, 2012

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013