Behaviors Associated with Brain Damage



For the next couple of minutes, I’d like to go over some of the common behaviors, characteristics, traits, involved with people who’ve had brain damage. So people who have had brain damage in one form or another will exhibit some or perhaps more of the following characteristics or behaviors. So, #1 we want to talk about is disorientation. Those who have had brain damage sometimes feel disoriented or confused. They are bewildered, and suffer perhaps loss of direction – where am I going? Loss of position – where am I right now? Loss of time – it’s already the afternoon, I thought it was still morning. And this results often from an altered attention span and from an altered memory because of the brain damage. So disorientation would be one of the behaviors or characteristics common to someone who’s had brain damage. Two, we want to talk about depression. Here, this is a state of unhappiness or hopelessness manifesting as withdrawal, crying, apprehension or petulance. It’s a depression not associated with something going on in their life, but as a direct result of the brain damage. Next we want to talk about impaired judgement. With brain damage, we often find people unable to assess the consequences of actions and respond appropriately. Their judgement has been impaired. For the person who has not had brain damage, usually if they’ve grown up normally, they are able to assess the consequences of actions and therefore make the appropriate response. But those who have had brain damage are incapable sometimes of doing this and so their judgement is highly impaired. Along with that, similar to but different, is impaired problem solving. Impaired problem solving: the inability to describe or analyze a problem. What’s wrong? I don’t know. Well, can you tell me that something is wrong? Yes. Well, tell me what is wrong. Well I don’t know. Or maybe they don’t know – well how are we going to solve that? I don’t know how to solve it, it’s overwhelming. So they’re not able to describe or analyze a problem. They cannot come up with a strategy to deal with the problem. They can’t even analyze the results. Did that go well? I don’t know, what do you think it did go well? Impaired judgement means they can’t assess the consequences of actions and then respond appropriately. Impaired problem solving means they don’t know that the problem is,or if they do, they don’t know how to solve the problem, they’re not even sure if the problem was solved. Next, we’ll talk about impulsivity. Impulsivity, this is an inclination to act or respond to sudden urges and desires without considering the consequences. I’m going to go buy a new car. Well, do you have the money to buy a new car? I don’t care, I’m getting a new car. I want it, I’m going to go do it. So they’ve got this impulsive desire, and they immediately follow through on it without thinking What are the consequences of this? What will it cause or do? So impulsivity can also be a behavior associated with brain damage. Next, disinhibition. Here basically, the ordinary societal and internal inhibitions that people have are completely removed. Where most of us would stop and think, I don’t want to embarrass myself, this isn’t appropriate for this context, this isn’t right our culture, our time, our society or whatever. Disinhibition, due to the brain damage leads someone to just I want to do this. So they might walk into a room full of people and disrobe. Ordinarily, we would all be inhibited against public nudity like that, but this person, due to the brain damage, sees no problem with that, and has no inhibition whatsoever doing things that would not be appropriate otherwise. Next, over here, number seven, we’re going to talk about agitation. Those who’ve had brain damage are often in an agitated state. Nervous anxiety, irritability, lack of attention span, sometimes they’re highly unrestrained in their behavior. There’s a great deal of perhaps aggression, maybe anger, so they’re agitated, once again due to the brain damage. Next, apathy. Those who’ve had brain damage sometimes can exhibit the patterns of behavior of being completely apathetic, disinterest, lack of motivation, lack of energy, complete emotional emptiness. Next, lack of initiative. And here, with initiative, we don’t just merely mean getting the ball rolling, getting something started. Not only do they fail to initiate, but they don’t follow through and complete either. So, you try to get them started on something, they don’t start, or if they do, they give up quickly and don’t actually complete what they’re supposed to be doing. Lack of initiative. They also sometimes suffer from lack of insight. Lack of insight. They are not self-aware, they are incapable to see situations clearly or they often live in denial: this is what’s going to happen if you do that. No it won’t. It will. They basically live in denial, they don’t see situations clearly, they’re not self-aware of what’s going on. So they lack insight. They also sometimes exhibit emotional libility. Here there is extreme or excessive emotion that swings wildly from side to side without any apparent external stimuli to produce that. So they would go from absolute crying to laughing hysterically with nothing in between to, one, explain the laughter, or to explain the crying. They just, back and forth, excessive emotion, and a quick change in mood – vast mood swings. Emotional libility. They also exhibit perseveration. Perseveration is repetition. Repetition, repetition, repetition. They say the same word, perform the same action, get stuck on a particular topic, over and over and over again. Long past what would be considered normal or appropriate for the situation. They show an inability to move on to other things, a complete fixation on something. So, the repetition of words or phrases, fixation on a particular topic, or a repetitive behavior done incessantly. Perseveration is a type of behavior commonly associated with brain damage. And then finally, confabulation. Patients with brain damage and also dementia exhibit this particular behavior or trait. Confabulation is fictitious creation of details about past events. This is ordinary done to compensate for memory loss or to alleviate anxiety. So, I’m fearful or I’ve forgotten. So instead of saying I’m afraid or I’ve forgotten, I’m going to make something up. Confabulation. Fictitious creation of details about past events to try to cover over the fact that either they don’t remember, or they’re afraid. Once again, seen not only in those with brain damage, but dementia as well. That’s a lot of different things to go over. We’ve looked at thirteen common behaviors associated with brain damage.

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Last updated: 07/25/2017
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