Kanye West’s Bad Behavior: Could it be Related to a Brain Injury?

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.


  1. You are right forgiveness is always good but it is a process…There are reasons for every action we take and I dont think anyone just happens to lose morality out of the blue…Things happen to drive us to do things like that…..but its not the first time he has done it…he seems to think he is above common courtesy because thats what"thugs" do…So he needs to feel the shame and feel what she felt in order to change…I dont listen to his music or have any judgement towards him so I dont need to forgive…he is human and is allowed to screw up …he apologized…and he will still sell albums …all will be good

  2. The incident is a surprised to everyone. Celebrities and fans were anger over West's disruption at MTV Awards. But one good thing about him is that he did an apology after the occurrence. However, for a person that doesn't write all his own music, Kanye West seems to think that he has more talent than he does, which is why he thinks that he can interrupt the <a rev="vote for" title="MTV Awards News: Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Beyonce" href="http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/09/14/mtv-awards-news-kanye-west-taylor-swift-beyonce/ ">MTV Awards Awards to announce that Beyonce Knowles had a better video than Taylor Swift, while she was accepting an award. ("All the Single Ladies" is a few women dancing around in leotards

  3. yes – it's a mystery. i think the greater issue for me is that we treat celebrities as super-human and as such, we sometimes don't give them the room to get the help that they need. i think that this is what happened to a lot of talented artists over the years and i thought it an interesting perspective on what may have happened. undoubtedly, there will be more to come! thanks for stopping by!

    peace and many blessings!


  4. you know, i'm not a huge fan of either of those artists and since i don't know kanye personally, i can't say that he thinks he's better than anyone. it appears to me that he's very insecure. when you're that insecure, you might say things to make you feel better about yourself. i think this may be what is happening with kanye. did you catch madonna's tribute to michael jackson? i really thought that was the highlight of the show. thanks so much for stopping by!

    peace and many blessings!


  5. Hi Dusty!

    I do believe that people with brain-injuries can be held accountable for their actions.

    I think that probably even kanye west can be held accountable for his foolish actions, even if he was brain-injured.

    I do agree that compassion is an important quality in a human being, but that does not mean that people don't need to be called on their wrong behavior. You can speak out firmly and compassionately.

    People need to be held accountable for wrong actions. There are limits that can be set, if you are truly brain-injured.

    You can love a person, care for them, and set limits. Kanye West needs limits, obviously.

    with love, Jas

  6. i agree with you, jas. i just think that sometimes celebrities don't get the help they need BECAUSE they are celebrities. there's no excuse for bad behavior, but there may be an explanation. i just hope that e gets the help he needs.

    thanks so much for your wisdom!

    peace and many blessings!


  7. thank YOU Dusty, for your wisdom as well, just sharin', peace be with you.

    And thanks for shedding a little light on ol' Kanye, he's a human being too, I get where you are coming from.x0x00x J