Brain Injury Disinhibition – the Losing of “Cool”

Brain Injury Disinhibition – The Losing of Cool After Severe Head Trauma

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Call me at 800-992-9447

Brain injury disinhibition is one of the most obvious, yet less dangerous issues, in the mix of neurobehavioral problems.  Brain injury disinhibition arises because  the survivor’s personality is out of balance.  Brain Injury disinhibition is a loss of social graces so to speak.

As we mature from grade schoolers to adults, we fine tune our manners, our personal relationships, as we learn how to socially interact with friends, members of the opposite sex.  For most of us, we reach a reasonable balance of conformity with expectations, mixed in with our own sense of humor and uniqueness.  Brain damage can mess up that balance. While the uniqueness of our personality may still be very much in evidence, the ability to conform is severely effected.  The finely tuned sense of humor that makes us fun to be with, is all out of whack.

The term Brain Injury disinhibition is used to discuss blurting things out, without the filter of what is appropriate.  As we mature, we learn an elaborate set of rules as to what we shouldn’t say and if we say something close to the line as a joke, how to make everyone laugh at the humor.  Some of us are funnier than others.  But when a brain injury person is disinhibited, the filters get messed up. Rarely are they completely gone like portrayed in a film, but they are certainly disrupted.

Nothing is more important to a teenager than being “cool.”  While the need to be “cool” is often criticized as a flaw in those that age, the need to learn to conform in some ways is important to adjusting to living in society.  We all become cool in our own way, as we find our own niche, ways to package our uniqueness with the overall structure of what is expected of us from peers and family.

But when brain injury damages the frontal lobes, much of the subtle balance of those hard life lessons of our teen years, gets messed up. We not only have brain injury disinhibition, we don’t seem to be able to not try too hard in conversation and we lose our empathy for those around us.  The effort to handle all the demands on the compromised attentional capacity when everything is out of sync, makes the survivor seem totally self centered.

All of this is very damaging to personal relationships, and often winds up with the survivor retreating or lashing out.

For Information on Frontal Lobe Deficits, click here.

To Return to  More on Severe Brain Injury Symptoms, click here.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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