I know, I know. This has become the standard joke about hip-hop superstar Kanye West – only someone with NO brain would pull the stunts that he pulls and say the things that he says. But, as we were standing around the water cooler this morning at work, one of my colleagues said something very interesting. He theorized that Kanye’s latest antic – belittling teenage country singer Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech at the VMAs, was likely related to his car accident from 2002. He speculated that frontal lobe damage could change/affect personality and behavior.
I found this very interesting. While I had been busy agreeing with President Barack Obama in labeling West a “jackass,” I had completely forgotten about this fact. I began to wonder if we were in the throes of yet another sad celebrity tale about a human being with a serious medical issue being placated instead of treated. Was West like the late Michael Jackson, surrounded by “yes men” who covered up or nurtured his neuroses so that the gravy train kept going? It’s certainly something to consider, though this is purely speculation.
According to the Textbook of Traumatic Brain Injury, disinhibition, inability to control anger, changes in personality and impulsiveness are behavioral changes that can occur following a traumatic brain injury. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry clarifies that, depending on the location of the injury, different behavioral issues can ensue. For example, a frontal lobe injury is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that often results in disinhibition and inappropriate or childish behavior. Is it possible that West’s 2002 accident, in which he broke his jaw in three places, resulted in a frontal lobe injury? Could this explain his behavior?
Who can say? But, I would hope that if Kanye is really as ashamed as he has expressed to Jay Leno, that he would do himself the favor of seeing his neurologist, especially if additional emotional trauma – say the death of your mother by plastic surgeon – could exaserbate the injury. In the meantime, perhaps we should suspend our judgment. Perhaps we should not be cynical. Perhaps we should cultivate compassion. Just maybe, even a “jackass” like Kanye West deserves it.