Does traumatic brain injury ‘cause’ schizophrenia?

Blog Post by Perminder Sachdev, Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and Clinical Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute, the Price of Wales Hospital, Sydney

Welcome to my first Cambridge Medicine blog. For this, I have chosen a topic which I have had to confront recently from a medico-legal viewpoint. There have been a number of competent reviews of this topic, but somehow clarity has not been achieved. While not attempting to review the topic once again, I present some reasons why a causal relationship between schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury is difficult to establish. While this does not pose a major problem for Psychiatry, it makes lawyers trying to argue for their clients quite nervous.I think this is an extremely difficult question to answer as it is bedeviled by numerous methodological issues. It is important to understand the methodological issues in order to fully appreciate the reasons for the differing opinions between experts:
1. Schizophrenia is a very heterogeneous disorder, and may in fact be a group of disorders. The question then arises: are we looking for an association with a particular subtype of schizophrenia, or schizophrenia in general, or indeed any psychosis that resembles schizophrenia?
2. Head injury is also extremely varied, and may vary from a whiplash injury with no loss of consciousness to extensive brain damage and bleeding. The brain regions affected can vary considerably depending upon whether it is a closed or open injury, caused by deceleration or a missile, etc, and a number of other factors, including associated injuries and the psychological aspects of the injury. Not all head injuries come to medical attention.
3. In the face of this heterogeneity, establishing cause is daunting at the very outset. However, one can try to narrow this task down by clearly defining both schizophrenia and head injury, and this is the first place where studies differ and therefore produce differing results.
4. The process of establishing a cause of a disorder in medicine is complex. The first step is an epidemiological one, in which investigators establish an association (in this case, for argument, that schizophrenia and head injury have more than a chance association). Much of the debate in the literature is focused on this (I will come to this later). Of course, it is implicitly acknowledged that head injury would occur first and schizophrenia later for head injury to be causative. However, the reverse association is also possible – individuals with schizophrenia might be more vulnerable to head injury because of their proneness to accidents or violence or due to postural or gait problems due to the drugs. This is usually not an issue if schizophrenia has been diagnosed prior to the head injury (although the issue of worsening of psychosis can then be raised). It is more problematic if an individual who suffers a head injury is in the prodromal or prepsychotic phase of schizophrenia, which is possible since schizophrenia may develop very slowly over months and sometimes years. There is also a suggestion that individuals prone to schizophrenia may have some abnormalities much before they become unwell, and these could be present from birth. These abnormalities could also make them vulnerable to accidents and head injury.
5. Even if an association is established, it does not mean that a cause had been found. Epidemiological studies have reported an association between head injury and a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, which include dementia, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, among others. There are many reasons why spurious associations can be thrown up by epidemiological studies (ascertainment bias, recall bias, etc.). An association must be followed by biological plausibility of the cause, and an understanding of the mechanism by which the putative cause produces the result. This is where the major difficulty with head injury and schizophrenia lies. Since we do not know the cause of schizophrenia, no association can be dismissed outright as being implausible if the brain has been affected in some way, however minor. For this reason, no head injury can be dismissed as being irrelevant if it is thought that brain trauma has occurred.
6. Furthermore, there are different types of causes. Of course, head injury cannot be a necessary cause of schizophrenia. Is it however a sufficient cause, or should it occur on a substrate of vulnerability for schizophrenia to occur? Since head injury is very common, and schizophrenia is an uncommon disorder, most models propose that it is unlikely to be a sufficient cause. It therefore is a contributory cause, if at all. It is proposed as one of multiple possible factors that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, of which genetic factors are the strongest. This topic has been extensively reviewed in many places, and the Tandon et al (2008) article is a good recent summary. This paper does show that of the many factors, head injury does not feature high on the list.
7. But what about the epidemiological evidence? That experts have reached differing conclusions suggests that the message is not clear-cut. This is partly because medical research has a different objective from a legal discourse. In the case of schizophrenia, the objective of pursuing this association, minor as it might be, is to develop some insights into the mechanisms by which schizophrenia develops; it is not intended to apportion blame. Every study has its limitations. The ideal study would be one in which a very large cohort of individuals who sustain a head injury, and a comparable control group without a head injury, are followed up over many years to determine whether the rates of schizophrenia are different. Even such a massive study cannot be fool-proof as many other factors will need to be considered, and totally unbiased populations do not exist in reality. The question, whether head injury causes schizophrenia can therefore, in my opinion, cannot be answered until we understand the pathological mechanisms of schizophrenia itself. There are many such debates in the medical literature involving complex disorders, the mechanisms of which are not known.
9. What is the consensus? I recently reviewed the evidence in the book Secondary Schizophrenia (Sachdev PS, Keshavan MS, eds., Cambridge University Press 2010).  The consensus, in my opinion, is that we do not know for sure whether head injury does increase the risk of schizophrenia. If it does, the relative risk is most likely to be in the order of 1.5 to 2.0. I agree that the recent Scandinavian studies (Nielsen et al, 2002 and Harrison et al, 2006) are the most systematic epidemiological studies, but they are not without their limitations. We should place this relative risk in context. The risk of an individual developing schizophrenia in their lifetime is about 0.7% (figures between 0.5% and 1.0% are cited). Having received a head injury possibly increases this risk to 1.0 – 1.4%, according to these estimates. How this risk estimate translates into the occurrence of schizophrenia in one individual is, however, not known, but the conclusion would be that head injury would be a minor factor, if at all. There is no consensus on the type of injury and this risk, although some evidence suggests that more severe injury may be worse. It is also not established whether injury to any particular brain region is worse for this risk, although temporal lobe injury has been suggested by some studies.

How can one reach a decision about causal association in an individual case?

From a medical perspective, this may be impossible. It is therefore more of a legal issue, and stems from the fact that the law is unable to deal with probabilities and possibilities in the same manner as medical science can. The difference between the two perspectives could be narrowed if legal argument was able to apportion part-causation (or a contribution from a risk) and judge responsibility or blame accordingly.

Having said this, clinicians do encounter psychotic disorders following traumatic brain injury.  Sometimes, we see individuals who never recover from their post-traumatic pscyhosis and go on to develop what appears to be schizophrenia. It is quite reasonable for the clinician to then ask the question whether the trauma did in fact cause the disorder. Family members are also impressed by the fact that the individual was well prior to the head injury, and they therefore blame the head injury for the problem. In fact, their retrospective recall of the individual’s functional status is often biased by this knowledge, and they usually paint too positive a picture of the pre-injury individual. We know from many other examples in medicine that these inferences can be erroneous, and that is why systematic evidence must be collected before an association can become an established fact. In the case of head injury and schizophrenia, the association cannot be said to be established fact, although it cannot be dismissed outright either.

What is then a reasonable way forward? For medical science, it is more research on many fronts, including better epidemiological studies. We also need guidelines for forensic psychiatrists and the legal profession on what may be considered ‘causal’ in the case of schizophrenia.  I invite your suggestions on this.  Please also submit de-identified vignettes of cases in which you consider that brain trauma did in fact results in schizophrenia.  I look forward to a lively dialogue.

Perminder Sachdev is the co-editor of Secondary Schizophrenia, published by Cambridge University Press and author of The Yipping Tiger and other tales from the neuropsychiatric clinic.
Harrison G, Whitley E, Rasmussen F, Lewis G, Dalman C, Gunnell D. Risk of schizophrenia and other non-affective psychosis among individuals exposed to head injury: Case control study. Schizophrenia Research 2006; 88:119-126.
Howes OD, McDonald C, Cannon M, Arseneault L, Boydell J, Murray RM. Pathways to schizophrenia: the impact of environmental factors. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 2004; 7 (Supplement 1), S7–S13.
Nielsen AS, Mortensen PB, O’Callagahn E, et al. Is head injury a risk factor for schizophrenia? Schizophrenia Research 2002 55:93-98.
Sachdev P, Keshavan MS (Eds.) (2010) Secondary Schizophrenia.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van Tandon R, Keshavan MS, Nasrallah HA. Schizophrenia, “Just the Facts”: what we know in 2008 part 1: overview. Schizophr Res. 2008 Mar;100(1-3):4-19.

Winkel R, Stefanis NC, Myin-Germeys I. Psychosocial Stress and Psychosis. A Review of the Neurobiological Mechanisms and the Evidence for Gene-Stress Interaction. Schizophrenia Bulletin 2008; 34 (6): 1095–1105.
Zhang QC, Sahdev PS. Psychotic disorder and traumatic brain injury. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2003;5(3):197-201.


47 Responses to Does traumatic brain injury ‘cause’ schizophrenia?

  1. Josh says:

    I really enjoyed this article! I was active duty in the Army for 8 years and 4 deployments. On my 1st one, I was in a direct contact with an IED. Since this event has happened in 2006, I have times where my head will feel like there is a crowd in there talking. No matter what I say or think the crowd will just keep repeating it over and over. It’s kind of like they are trying to annoy me, and some times they succeed. This is not an everyday thing I deal with. I haven’t found what my trigger is or what the reason us behind it. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for about 2 years now and this still puzzles her? If there is any guidance you have out there and/or have had some experience on this, I would love to here from anyone. Just email me at

  2. Mrs B says:

    My husband and I have been married for 28 years. We have raised four wonderful children, now aged 25 (male), Matthew 23(male), 20 (female) & 16 (male). All were born naturally, ‘healthy’ with normal births, were breastfed for a min 4 months and progressed through school well, achieving in sports, arts & were average to above average in k-12 years. Matthew was 6 weeks premature but only spent half a day in a humidicrib and did very well & was tube fed breast milk.

    Previously we have only one case of mental illness in three generations (all known) of both genetic families and that was a great uncle who was injured while horse riding around 15 ish. The injury resulted in blindness in one eye & later, schizophrenia.
    All four children are ‘extremely healthy’ in all areas apart from early ear infections in the boys. Matthew has been our ‘healthiest’. He literally never gets sick, perhaps a cold once a year.
    Our youngest is in year 11 and has always had ADHD, except for six months age 8, he has been ‘unmedicated’ and is doing very well. He is both confident and outgoing and has settled down beautifully with age. All four are very close and are extremely supportive of each other, especially of Matt.
    Matthew was a ‘B’ student in school and was an extremely capable artist VERY early on. He was a enthusiastic rep. tennis player and he won cadet of the year at Knox Grammar. He was ‘quite humorous’ but ‘focussed’. He was the more focussed of our children in school and with his sport.
    At age 8 he was in an accident. He was pulled along by a flying fox rope off a twenty foot tower. His head hit the timber edge and as he was dragged by the ankle over a distance of 200 metres behind the ‘fully loaded’ flying fox, his head bounced along the ground, hitting both front & back. He was unconscious from the first ‘hit’. He was resuscitated twice, by ambulance and then again by paramedics on his way to hospital. He was of light weight so his head did not appear to hit the ground too hard but his head was indeed ‘thrown around’ at the time.
    After spending a few days in hospital he was released and seemed to be alright. We were warned to claim insurance in the event he had problems relating to his accident in later life.

    A few days after his injury, he had his first ever nose bleed and it was ‘heavy’. From that day he had nose bleeds at least twice a week (every week) and as he got older the bleeding had much heavier ‘clots’ in it. During this time he was checked but the nose bleeds were said to be ‘coincidental’. He had his nose corterized? on two occasions but the bleeding returned. No other members of our family over all generations have suffered more than one maybe two nose bleed per so many years. Most of us, not in more than five years etc.
    The nose bleeds only ceased around the age of 15/17 ish (that I know of) coincidentally around the time his symptoms of mental illness began. Between the rough age of 16 – 21 we were regularly seeing doctors, psychologists, counsellors and specialists as his behaviour became strange and his performance in all areas, particularly the pace of his artwork had ‘wained’. It took all of this time for him to be diagnosed.
    Each time we saw medical people he was said to be ‘a lovely young man’.
    (He was clean cut, polite & without alcohol or drug connection). Had he had, we believe the diagnosis would have come much sooner. The said diagnosis being frontal lobe injury & schizophrenia. He has ‘scarring’ on his frontal lobe that is said to be the size of a pea.
    He is now on risperidon? & has injections as well. He has been unable to work properly as he is not as fit since the medication and his ‘brain’, ideas etc change on an almost daily basis.
    If he doesn’t take his medication ‘perfectly’ he suffers from psychosis pretty quickly and he ‘becomes stranger’.
    I write this, as it is only my ‘gut’ instinct that tells me his illness was caused by his injury.
    He has not taken drugs in his lifetime until just once 12 months after his diagnosis and medication. He lives in a home with other young men with schizophrenia (those caused by drug taking). He called the police on himself as soon as he had taken it. That is so Matt.
    Effectively, our son is more like a 10 year old boy yet there is much about him sometimes that seems ‘normal’ and his own age. He is ‘compliant’ and has never not been, even when put in hospital for six months after finally being diagnosed. He remains a ‘lovely’ young man yet he does not have the quality of life that we had hoped he would. He has become ‘quite the religious zealot’, often taking the bible ‘so literally’ that at one point he felt he need to remove his eyes as he believed he had ‘sinned’ accordingly.

    I write the above, hoping that Matt’s personal journey may be of some help or use in the ‘solving’ of questions surrounding the causes of this heart wrenching disease. It has been a hard road for all of us as we watched him suffer and as his behaviour before diagnosis effected each one of us personally.
    Our son missed out on any ‘insurance’ regarding his accident because it was said ‘to be too difficult’ to ‘prove’ his illness was caused by it. Yet stated by the insurance company that he was ‘absolutely deserving of compensation’.
    He is therefore now on welfare. We are not a ‘welfare’ kind of family. Typically most of our history is that of hard working farmers and engineers, even govt policy writers. No one in three generations (that’s all we know the history of) has EVER had to ask the government for assistance. We have worked hard for twenty plus years and have employed over 125 people over this time.

    After reading a few of these stories, I am ‘shocked’ that the profession still ‘questions’ that head injuries ‘most likely don’t’ have the ability to cause ‘schizophrenia’. Seems to me, here is your ‘research & evidence’ right here in front of you. I feel so sad for these ‘patients’, there Mums & Dads and close families. Let there be some ‘genuine’ research done to prevent another generation going through all of this suffering. I imagine it’s so preventable. Perhaps it begins with ‘acknowledgement’ that ‘parents might just know something’.

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      You don’t mention any scan reports, yet the accident must have affected your son’s head. He needs scans – head and neck, and maybe an x-ray of his neck in a position ‘normal’ to him.

      But please stop using the label schizophrenic as schizophrenia means broken minded and the chances are your son doesn’t have a broken mind, rather a dysfunctional cerebral blood supply or damage to certain areas in his brain.

      Some so called schizophrenics improve with antibiotics – repeat ANTIBIOTICS, and that is because bacteria multiply exponentially to the amount of physical damage because the natural immunity factors don’t so easily get through to the damage areas.

      Your son probably also needs a cranial osteopath to relieve the pressure consequent on mispositioned cranial plates, consequent on his head being bumped on the ground. But first make sure the MRA/MRI scans are done so that the osteopath knows what is happening on the inside.

      It maybe the accident caused a vertebral compression of one of the neck arteries, which results in not enough oxygen and nutrients reaching all of the brain all of the time. The osteopath will also tell you if this is likely, and ask to see the neck x-rays.

      Also, if your son is living away from home, it is your right to ensure his living circumstances are entirely appropriate to his needs. He needs a well aired quiet room, and his bed has to be away from electricity sockets. He must not have bedding and towels (or clothes) smelling of washing powder, and he needs protection from too much heat and too much cold. What he eats needs carefully monitoring because too much fat food and sugar is not good for him, and he must avoid caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks as they exacerbate all hyperdopamine conditions.

      Everyone on antipsychotic medication is suffering from excess dopamine, antipsychotics are dopamine antagonists. Excess dopamine is the brain’s response to about four different kinds of stress, and itself contributes to language difficulties, judgement problems and illogical thinking, which unalert people define as schizophrenia.

      These difficulties and problems can also be caused by disease or blunt trauma or stroke damage to areas of the brain responsible for language, judgement and other forms of thinking, but if your son can operate better on antipsychotics than without them, there is no intrinsic damage, rather the excess dopamine is the cause.

      As a survivor, I can say too much dopamine production is like living in an unstoppable nightmare, and one which can only be stopped by dealing with the cause. If that is not possible, then antipsychotics are a necessary relief. Mine eventually stopped thanks to an osteopath.

      Please ask your son to express what he is going through as much as possible, and let him know that people do learn to navigate the difficult times, and he should say ‘yes’ when any suggestions are made as to what he can do to help professionals to help him, provided the suggestions come from alert professionals who read up the latest research and also work with alternative therapists.

  3. Angie says:

    our daughter had severe oxygen deprivation after an undetected cardio respiratory arrest that lasted for about 20 minutes. she had some frontal lobe damage also. she is 4 now has mild hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy and behavioral issues that we fear could also be due to her HIE. She has imaginary friends which we were told is normal at this age. but these friends get to be more present every day and she reminds us more and more of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. She has conversations with one if her friends who talks her down and tells her to hurt and endanger herself (scratching herself, throwing herself down a flight of stairs, running onto the road with cars approaching)
    we are in the process of finding out if her problems are psychological due to the traumatic birth and strained family relationship (mother has post traumatic stress disorder) or could be neurogenic…
    professionals tend to drift towards the trauma /strained family relationship but I feel that her brain damage could also be to blame…
    is there anyone out there who thinks there could be a link…? Do you have any tips or hints on this subject?

    • Paul says:

      I think you’re absolutely right about it being neurological. Surviving a 20 minute cardiopulmonary arrest is a miracle. If it was really arrest, then its no flow/oxygenation, meaning brain death in 4-6 minutes.

      Birth complications and hypoxia are big risk factors for this. Even some adults (hell, many of them in these comments, including me (for a month)) have experienced some sort of hallucinations. I had a fully integrated audio-visuo-tactile experience (and I was actuallly sober that time, oddly enough) a month after my right carotid dissection

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      When people break a leg, they can’t use it until it has healed. Frontal lobe damage obviously must affect your daughter, but you need an alert neurologist to explain how, or to show you whether your daughter’s behavior and thinking is being negatively exacerbated by excess dopamine production in response to that damage.

      If you Google frontal lobe damage, you may find Professor Wood at Swansea University will be instructive as to what it causes.

      Some professionals pull causes out of thin air to explain things when what needs explaining is already obvious from what has happened, and it is best to avoid these people.

      From my own experience of imaginary friends, you may also want to look at ensuring your daughter has enough real friends. If her thinking is already disturbed by the equivalent of ‘being on acid’ then anything she has or does will be affected.

      I get the Gollum analogy, and regularly reading her stories with happy endings might change the emphasis of her thinking, as should someone who is worth consulting and capable of helping her cope with what must be very strange auditory and even visual experiences, someone who will hopefully recommend people who might be able to contribute to reversing the initial damage.

      • Rosemary Jones says:

        Please excuse me continuing but if your daughter is trying to damage herself she needs watching all the time until the reasons for why that is are worked out. It could be she has auditory and visual hallucinations which are unbearable to her, or headaches and tinnitus, or it could be that she perceives herself as unwanted or as having done something wrong.

        I think she also needs watching whilst playing with people of her own age in case she is unsettling to them or frightening.

        Having had to watch over my son for the last 13 years to ensure his everyday safety and to prevent him being provoked, I think it is very important that you have help with that watching over until your daughter is properly diagnosed.

        Also, and as many children are almost telepathic with their parents, it is likely she is picking up on her mother’s post traumatic stress problems, and treating those with hypnotherapy and maybe other therapies will also give her more space to deal with her own problems.

        I hope you get the right help soon.

  4. brainrobber says:

    This is a very misleading statement – people suffering these symptoms are more likely to be harmed than do the harming according to statistics I’ve read — and they are no more likely to harm others than those in the general population. However we do need response teams like Open Dialogue and should press the DHHS – SAMHSA for this kind of care in every city, county, state.

    ust FYI – I wish we all had access to experts like these and to OPEN DIALOGUE – now being taught in Massachusetts with Dr. Jaacko Seikkula (check spelling)

  5. Rosemary says:

    Cannot emphasize enough – after damage to the cranium who better to restore the original shape than a cranial osteopath, and without the original shape it’s pressure for life.
    Besides, they also know when a cervical vertebrae is compressing a neck artery and maybe can decompress it. But, take a minder with you when you go.

    • Paul says:

      I don’t know that much about neck artery compression, but I am vigorously studying the possible causes and mechanisms of various psychoses (including, but not limited to schizophrenia), and I found a common theme (a possible Occam’s Razor): most forms of hallucinations involve either reduced function of the Pontine Peduncular Nucleus, the Reticular Activating System, the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus, or the basal forebrain.

      All these areas are focal points for reality generation (their activity is higher during REM sleep and waking consciousness), and many of them involve Glutamate or Acetylcholine receptors/wiring. I don’t know yet whether this involves Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, and NMDA glutamate receptors, but if it does, it would explain why drugs that block them (dissociatives like DXM or PCP for NMDA and Anticholinergics like atropine, for Muscarinic acetylcholine) cause hallucinations, give feelings of being in a dream, and mimic schizophrenia almost perfectly.

      I think its also no coincidence that drugs that block serotonin receptor #6 increase dopamine and adrenaline in the front of the brain, thus reversing negative symptoms of schizophrenia, and can reverse dissociative and anticholinergic induced cognitive deficits.

      I also think its no coincidence that dissociative and anticholinergic drugs increase dopamine activity in the nucleus accumbens (limbic system, which is over-active in schizophrenia).

      My hypothesis is that schizophrenia is caused by a loss of NMDA or Muscarinic activity due to damage of the PPN or the basal forebrain, or some central nexus/node of glutamate/acetylcholine production. As it so happens, the PPN produces both.

      Also look up “peduncular hallucinosis”: most case reports involve brainstemor midbrain compression, and the structures disrupted include the PPN and the Reticular Activating System (this system wakes you up from sleep when it activates).

      Peduncular Hallucinosis is interesting because it involves fully formed, realistic, 3D hallucinations. I think this is what I had during my first month after my TBI. Its also interesting because people with this problem have excessive fatigue/sleepiness AND insomnia/disrupted sleep. I had a severe amount of both during that first month. I also felt drunk/stoned in my first 10 days, but not in a pleasant way. My vision, hearing, ballance, and skin sensitivity were similar to when I took DXM or when drunk (both have NMDA dissociative effects).

      Well, I hope this info will help fill in some pieces of the puzzle.

      • Rosemary Jones says:

        Hi Paul.

        Great to have such an account at hand.

        From my experience of my own head injury and my son’s head>neck injury is that the primary causal factor is an interference with oxygen take up in certain parts of the brain.

        In my case, the injury was on the right side – temple area, with swelling and much inflammation, so that the brain function there was significantly compromised, and the consequences were oral and visual hallucinations, which receded over time presumably as the inflammation went down.

        In my son’s case, the diagnosis was ‘vertebral damage to the artery’, and the causal factor being a ‘twisting neck injury’ resulting from a head impact injury, a shunting type injury, the artery still being either blocked or compressed, and therefore creating a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, a deficit which causes speech, memory and learning problems.

        Measuring cerebral oxygen take up is difficult. This difficulty combined with the mistaken opinion that the other three main neck arteries fully compensate, mean that my son still has no idea if his artery is blocked for all time or compressed by a vertebrae. The osteopath says compressed, the National Institute for Neurology say they don’t know and there is no point in finding out.

        Hopefully, this medical travesty will be resolved by a further referral.

        The important thing is – if you have a head or a head>neck injury, see a head injury specialist rather than any inexperienced neurologist.

      • Paul says:

        When I first read your comments about oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) and reduced blood flow, I thought thought they were a wacko fringe theory (like flouride in water, or lizard aliens and greys controlling world leaders/events).

        Now I read about it myself, and it turns out you were absolutely RIGHT!

        I also found out that half of schizophrenia risk genes have to do with oxygenation, blood vessles, and ENERGY PRODUCTION.

        I wrote that in bold because I have pyruvate kinase deficiency, which causes reduced ATP production, and as a result, hemolytic anemia (I have fewer red blood cells). Turns out thats one of the genes for schizophrenia risk. I also have the risk factors of low birth weight, slightly premature birth, being an immigrant (twice), growing up in a metropolitan city, being bullied from ages 6-15, severe vitamin D deficiency, severe magnesium deficiency, and smoking weed daily from ages 16-18 (puts me at 10% risk on its own). I also experienced weed psychosis (which on its own puts me at 20% risk). Am I doomed or what?

        Interestingly, I found some reseatch about olanzapine that it causes upregulation of several genes, pyruvate kinase among them. I don’t know if its limited to PFC brain tissue, or if its global.

        Could this be an ironic cure for the problem that plagued me all my life?

  6. Rosemary says:

    anyone with damage and inflammation to brain cells causing less oxygen uptake will likely need anti dopamine agents like the anti psychotics because in this situation the brain creates more dopamine, and excess dopamine causes problems with thinking. (ie it’s a stress response to keep the body working) the initial and continual damage create inflammation, and bio organisms always attack the least defended tissue. that is why antibiotics help so called schizophrenics. – see Japanese study on schizophrenia and anti biotics. What needs to be done is to reverse the damage. This may mean clearing blocked arteries, and that is difficult because of the possibility of causing strokes.

    • Paul says:

      I am one of these brain injured sons, and I resent your accusation that we should be treated as dangerous and in need of anti-psychotics.

      Ironically, I have a very similar story to uour son. 1.5 years ago (when I was 22), I had a carotid dissection. My right internal carotid has no flow, and the left one MIGHT have stenosis (MRI’s see the stenosis, but CT’s show a clear artery).

      My case is inoperable, and I lost some IQ points, my depression and my fibromyalgia got exponentially worse, and I now need wellbutrin and cannabis to function. The problem is, this combo is making me hallucinate sometimes.

      I had a fully formed hallucination 3 days after my TBI, and again 3 weeks later. Both lasted under 2 minutes, but on the 2nd one I was fully sober. Both were people I was close (close family friends), and on the 2nd one I greeted her into my house, and felt her bump into me. I had a 20 second conversation with her and went back to my room.

      Right now I’m having brightness, distance and color hues changing, usually together in an on and off manner, like entering adrenaline mode, or as I call it, “the nether-world”

      Sometimes things seem dim, boring, and dissociated (like a lame dream); other times things seem bright, vivid, interesting, detailed.

      Sometimes I see green and purple flames/waves in the sky (like aurora borealis).

      Sometimes I see spiders or wasps that aren’t there (only out of the corner of my eyes, and only for a few seconds).

      All of these have only happened in the past 4-6 weeks).

      Also, my violent outbursts have become much less common after my TBI, but they’re much more intense.

      • Rosemary says:

        Hi Paul.

        Very sorry to have caused you offense, and certainly generalisations about other people’s propensity for violence should be treated with discretion. But I am worried about some head>neck injuries because about 70% of people convicted of GBH show Horner’s Syndrome in their photographs, a consequence of a neck injury interfering with the neck positioned sympathetic chain, and the neck injury often a cause of a vertebral artery blockage, leading to not enough brain oxygen so things are misunderstood.

        Horners Syndrome also affects people who are not violent at all.

        Please also check out the Bandura Effect – childhood observational learning of violent behaviour which is repeated in adulthood and needs hypnotherapy or serious peer pressure to eliminate.

        I just wish that people with head or head>neck injuries could be better treated not least for us all to avoid the GBH and hassle behaviour evidenced by some of them. From my experience following a motor bike accident, followed by auditory and visual external and internal hallucinations, treatment by cranial osteopaths where surgery isn’t possible needs to be encouraged. I now only have hallucinations when I am cognitively over active and brain nutrient deficient or very tired, and only have ‘petite mal’ like head explosions, when not having enough magnesium.

        I recommend anti psychotics if they put people in a better mental state which they cannot attain otherwise but know that in certain cases propping your head up on a bed head rest so the arterial flow is maximised after having experienced a head>neck injury and also getting enough sleep can restore normal thinking.

        People can learn to put up with hallucinations but that is no excuse for neurologists to give up on them and send them to psychiatrists who too often ignore their physical problems altogether.

        I hope this is helpful, and please accept my apology.


      • Paul says:

        I have bilateral horner syndrome. I cant sweat much bellow my neck on both sides. As for hallucinations, the ones I mentioned faded away pretty soon after I left that message. They lasted 5 weeks after I tried a certain powerful stimulant (the boogeyman of the drug world).

        I sleep pretty badly, so my head never made full recovery. I felt drunk and had dim vision (in both eyes equally), but both of these symptoms were gone 3 weeks after my injury.

        I’ve been to 3 neurologists, 1 of which was a specialist in Stanford University. None of them believed my symptoms are neurological because my symptoms are equally bilateral. I have equal lack of sweat, equally low muscle tone, and equal skin numbness on both sides of my body. I even have equally severe reductions in visual AND verbal short term memory (each type is governed by each hippocampus in each hemisphere). Doctors refuse to believe that bilateral, symmetric, vascular injuries can occur, even though I’m living proof.

        I developed an unusual syndrome of repeated, sudden bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness, with fluttering/spasming sensations inside my head. Some of these left me with permanent new neuropsych symptoms, such as reduced sensitivity to bitter tastes, spreading facial numbness, inability to feel people’s presence/personal boundaries, loss of sexual attraction, loss of fear, loss of remorse, and even loss of empathy. I lost these all seperately after different events, and I remember each event that caused each symptom. The craziest thing is that each ability I lost corresponded with numbness or headache in the exact location where the brain creates these sensations. When I lost empathy, the front right chunk of my head felt numb. When I lost presence/personal boundaries, I felt numbness 1-2 inches behind the inner tip of my right eyebrow (thats where the right amygdala is, which creates personal boundaries/social anxiety).

        As for violence, I grew up in Israel, so Im pretty damm violent. I actually choked both my parents once this year (within 6 months of each other). Im lucky they put up with that, or I would have to resort to crime pretty quick, since my head injury left me with terrible short term memory (its bad enough that I’m legitimately unemployable in any job).

        I dont know if these deficits are worse than having schizophrenia, but I know that despite having no family history of it (though my grandma might have psychotic depression) I have a 21% or higher chance of developing it. I know this because I experienced cannabis induced psychosis at least once, and I know I have many other risk factors (low birth weight, premature birth, hypoxia due to congenital anemia, smoked cannabis almost every day between age 16-18, drop in IQ during puberty, lack of prepulse inhibition, and high suceptibility to stimulant psychosis). I might still get it, especially since I will probably depend on ever increasing quantities of stimulants. I also know that dissociative drugs are some of the few that (occasionaly) relieve my muscle aches and my depression. These drugs also increase the risk of schizophrenia.

        As for antipsychotics, oddly enough I went to a mental hospital 6 weeks ago, and I received olanzapine (combined with lorazepam and diphenhydramine), for beating up the seclusion room window. When I woke up, I was in a good mood for the first time in months. I know I never liked the way lorazepam and benadryl felt, so it must have been the zyprexa. If it didnt come with a risk of parkinsonism/Tardive Diskinesia, I might consider trying it for my depression; it helped more than any antidepressant I tried.

  7. Toni says:

    My Dad had a closed head injury 20 years ago. He was put on so much medicine plus was doing street drugs. He was hospitalized in 94 and then just put on lots more med’s. Now Doctors are saying he has schizophrenia. They said it is not from the injury. Before the injury my Dad was a painter, did very detailed work with steay hands now he shakes and drools. I hope we all get answers.

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      Hi Toni.

      It seems doctors often use the schiz terminology when they can’t otherwise account for what is happening to someone. The word is Greek for ‘broken minded’ and, though it maybe that is the case with your father, but then again, the more appropriate term could be ‘inflammation’.

      Psychiatrists also often use the term for people who have taken a lot of street drugs, and in a way rightly so because too much drug use and too little oxygen and brain nutrients to facilitate the drug experiences obviously can lead to brain circuitry blow outs, and that is damaging to the point of being broken minded.

      But your father needs to know for sure what is causing what, because the closed head injury is not to be ignored, and there may be advantages in dealing with the initial cause rather than dealing with the consequences of that cause, which either way is excess dopamine production and its effect on language and cognition.

      Why would the body want to seemingly harm itself ? Well, it looks as though the excess dopamine response to stress, ie as the result of damage, inflammation, disease, overuse, and oxygen and nutrient deficits, is an earlier evolutionary thing – keeping the essential functions going, and this is such a priority that it doesn’t matter if the price of survival is for the more recently acquired cognitive functions to go beserk by being overcharged with the stuff.
      Going beserk doesn’t so threaten our existence. Obviously, I don’t really know, and I wish I knew someone who does..

      However, I think it is your right to know what is causing what, and that the most recent tests should be used to measure the oxygen uptake of different brain areas, and there should be mapping of the original injury and its relation to the cognitive dysfunctions being experienced.

      Certainly, the doctors need to be told that the term ‘schizophrenic’ has no causal value, and should be deleted from their vocabulary. If they don’t agree, then please ask them to look up the Japanese research on the response some so called schizophrenics have to antibiotics.

      I hope this helps.

      P.S. If you live in the UK please see the Lib Dem project CLOSE THE GAP, now that Nick Clegg has defined the existing mental health services as something akin to what happened in the Dark Ages.

  8. My son was in an accident 4 yrs ago that left him in a coma for 24 days by the grace of god he woke up. He sufferreda diffused axenol brain injury and had a bleed on the left frontol lobe but the couldond’t do surgery cause he brain ws to swollen. He ended up getting involved with drugs and now has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He states it was before the drugs and he used the drugs to get the voices to go away. I had to put him into a hospital and I feel as tho no one care cause its not there child I dont lnow where else to turn to help my baby. ANYONE!!!!!!

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      Please read my other posts as they are what I would write to you, and please write to Dr Insel at the NIMH for guidance.

      No more cannabis as it is too demanding on an already damaged system, but it isn’t causing the voices, just making them worse.

      The voices are being caused by excess dopamine production which is the brain’s response to the stress brought about by the original injury, and an attempt to make sure the basic functions keep going. I could be wrong but antipsychotic medication is actually anti excess dopamine medication, which usually works but does not cure..

  9. Sad Dad in FL says:

    We have no family history of mental illness – In 2008, my then 12 year old son sustained a TBI injury from a skateboarding accident. He had a moderate/severe TBI but recovered very well and went back to school, etc. He did have temporal, parietal and frontal lobe damage from the accident but resumed normal life with some behavioral issues. Fast forward to 2011, he was 15 and had been experimenting with Marijuina, out of the blue he had a catatonic episode was admitted to the hospital originally thought to be Temporal Status epileptic seizures but nothing showed up prominently enough on the EEG’s, etc. Over the past year he has been in Psychosis primarily with Auditory hallucinations and Religious based delusions. He has been on 3 different APs but none have fully helped him – he has seen multiple Psychiatrists and Neurologists. They have him listed as diagnosed – Psychosis NOS but suspect Schizophrenia. I am just looking for any resources, anywhere in the country who specializes in treating post-TBI Psychosis. We are desperate for any help or expertise that is out there – it is unbearable to see him suffer like this. Frankly, the mental health system in our state (Florida) is a complete and utter failure… I hope someone sees this that can give us some advice/hope/direction!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a surfer and skater who, at the time of my similar injury, was spending time with my parents in Florida……….i crashed going very fast over a inter-coastal bridge on my longboard. I have some thoughts, but 7 years after this, all I can say is a good part of regaining your previous self, has alot to do with the person. Their motivation (which is terrible, because all the prescriptions turn a person into a sloth), and giving that person (your son) his freedom while making sure he doesn’t harm himself………. & you are very right ta say the Dr’s in Florida (and the rest of the U.S.) are terribly uninformed and unsympathetic to the needs in these cases. I truly wish you both the best

    • TBI on OBX says:

      contact Sylvia Whitmire in Charlotte NC — and also in Chesapeake Virginia —

      and read this

      • Rosemary Jones says:

        Thanks for the Science Daily link. I also heard that brain areas which are not used over time get deleted, but can’t remember the research reference.

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      The term schizophrenia needs deleting, and your first letter should be to the Director of the US NIMH – Dr Insel, who has decided to revamp all psychiatric labels, and will probably let you know who to turn to.

      Also, it sounds very likely your son is trying to carry on with depleted cognitive facilities, so any extra demand on them would have disastrous results. Cannabis is very demanding because the drug stimulation of the brain’s cognitive links is more exacting than with everyday thinking.
      Unless there are additional back up nutrients and oxygen,and enough undamaged neurones, it’s a blow out situation – hence the catatonia.

      From my own experience of petite mal, which is like a bomb going off in your head, especially when I am tired and nutrient depleted, and also aura headaches, my best response is to take magnesium, which seems to work. But I wouldn’t try my luck with enhancers like cannabis, in case I really damaged myself beyond repair. I think he just has to know he must not take these street drugs, and rather needs to focus on brain nutrients including maximum oxygen uptake.

      Otherwise, you could try Dr Berguer – the University of Michigan, because, though he is a vascular surgeon, he is renowned for post TBI work Karen is her namr.

      I hope this helps but please note I am not professionally trained, just a long time observer of people’s mental health problems, including my own and my son’s.


  10. My son had a head impact injury in his teens, the wound was stitched and despite there being a sllight dent in his cranium, he was told that nothing more needed to be done. Six months later his headteacher said he wasn’t concentrating as well as he used to, three years later he was complaining of headaches and was referred to a psychiatrist who eventually sectioned him. Ten years later, an out-of-borough psychiatrist got to know him and said his symptoms were atypical of schizophrenia and he should have MRA/MRI scans, scans which showed he had a partially blocked head artery and a fully blocked neck artery. This latter means that only three quarters of the blood usually reaching the brain is reaching it except when the heart is pumping faster, which obviously it cannot do all the time. That means there is a brain oxygen and nutrient deficit at least some of the time. The symptoms of the oxygen deficit are impaired judgement, short term memory and language difficulties, and learning disabilities.

    Twenty two years later, and after ten years of dreadful experiences in psychiatric wards, my son continues to be at home and on antipsychotic medication, which is making him obese.

    According to one neurologist and an osteopath, my son has a twisting neck injury as aresult of the accident, like when trains crash into bumpers and the carriages buckle. As yet, there has been no attempt to find out if the buckling effect is compressing the neck artery, that is no attempt to provide an alternative to my son taking medication which is slowly and indirectly killing him. At last, he is being referred to a spine specialist who hopefully will explain if my son’s other symptoms – wheezing and hyperventilation, eye rotational problems and slight narrowing of the eyelids on the same side as the blocked artery.

    Because some neurological thinking assumes one of the four neck arteries being blocked makes no difference to cognition, there continues to be a mix of uncoordinated fact finding, if at all, and illogical reasoning. Some of this reasoning ascribes my son’s symptoms to ‘underlying mental health problems’ and even though they are the symptoms of a blocked neck artery decreasing the amount of oxygen reaching the brain and there there is nothing wrong per se with his head – the partially blocked artery was cleared by the enzyme Serrapeptase, and as shown by more recent scans. That the enzyme did not clear the totally blocked artery is either because there was insufficient access or because there is nothing to unblock – the problem being a compression due to the buckled vertebrae.

    Schizophrenia means broken minded, and recent research shows it responds to anti-biotics, which means at least an element of it is an immunity/inflammation disease. Inflammation occurs with injuries, insufficient oxygen makes dealing with inflammation is that more difficult, the neurologists who depend on out dated information are hurting patients and preventing further research, all in all very expensive to the State

    Schizophrenia has such dire associations that too many medics are content to keep prescribing and neglect to look at the causes. They also tend to follow what has been said before, which is why the psychiatrist who identified my son’s symptoms as being atypical of the disease was an independent thinker trained at a forward thinking medical school and helped by the fact he did not know any of the clinicians who had misdiagnosed my son in the past.

  11. Laura says:

    My son at age seven, was hit in the face by another child with a golf club (nine iron) while we were camping with friends. He came running back to our camper and blood was gushing out of his nose. The camp ground called an ambulance and the diagnosis was a broken nose. We took him in for surgery a few weeks later and the doc said they set his nose and he should be fine. 6 months later my husband and I were on a vacation, the kids were at grandmas. My son and his 4 cousins went swimming at the swim club with my mother. When I got home they told me his cousin accidently kicked him in the nose when they were rough playing in the pool. Back to the hospital we went (same thing from the doc -set the nose he’s fine).
    Shortly after that he started getting real bad headaches and would sometimes vomit. I took him to his doctor and they did an ekg. She said she didn’t see anything and it was probably due to stress. She gave me some medicine to give to him and sent us home.
    The vomitting stopped and the headaches came and went but his behavior got unruly.
    After going in and out of the hospitol for his behavior problems and strange behavior, they diagnosed him with schitzophrenia. We’ve been trying to deal with this but are not able to do anything since he wasn’t diagnosed until 4 months before his 18 birthday. Now he’s 20 and he’s going down hill and I just don’t know where to turn for help.
    The doctors kept asking me if this disease ran in either of our family’s and we told her no. When we asked if it could be from the head injury it was totally dismissed.
    Can someone tell me what to do before something bad happens to my son?
    Thank you in advance for any advise.

    • brainrobber says:

      Laura – I’m sorry this is so late, but I’m sending this info below to all in case it is helpful. We are left, woefully, without the PROPER help we need for our loved ones, and there’s really NO EXCUSE for it— the effective methods are KNOWN and used in other countries and WERE USED in the US before they were shut down because the pharm industry has been running our health care system and our FDA. That said, there are a few SCATTERED therapists etc who are trying to change things – and see more below.

      Doctors seem to love diagnosing schizo – to justify these DANGEROUS drugs that cure nothing, though they shut down some of the activity that results in alternative forms of thinking and perceptions (usually called psychosis). There is a growing movement to STOP this insane totally drug-based approach to these symptoms, which can be caused by many things, including TBI, pyrophoria (see the Brain Bio Centre’s webpage on this), nutritional deficiencies and trauma of any kind.

      I have a petition asking SAMHSA (us dept of mental health) to support OPEN DIALOGUE & Soteria treatment models in the US — SAMHSA KNOWS about these models – it KNOWS of Robert Whitaker’s and Dr. Peter Breggin’s and others’ research showing the harm and ineffectiveness of esp long-term use of psychiatric drugs — BUT — I am told WE must work to get our states to REQUEST funds to provide these more effective, non-drug -based, and MORE COMPASSIONATE models of treatment. They are particularly effective with FIRST BREAK psychoses (etc) BEFORE people are put on brain-damaging psychoactive drugs that are very hard to withdraw from.

      Soteria Alaska will explain that TODAY (as opposed to the 80s when Soteria’s initial experiment was SO successful – see Loren Mosher), it is HARD to find people who have NOT been given some kind of psychiatric drug, and they get a lot of people suffering from the effects of the drugs. Soteria and Open Dialogue (Finland’s success) do best with those who have not been drugged, HOWEVER, we can have programs similar to these and/or those using Breggin’s EMPATHIC THERAPY – or combinations — that don’t EXACERBATE the problems and don’t treat patients like criminals (as state hospitals often do). We CAN have programs that help people safely and slowly withdraw from damaging drugs while they receive the emotional and other support they need to get through their crises — which many believe are caused by some form of trauma.

      I believe it is wrong for the US Dept of Health (SAMHSA) to put the burden of bringing this more effective and compassionate (and in the long run, less costly) treatment to Americans. I believe they should demand states use funds to provide these treatments — which, had they been made available to all years ago, would have averted the crisis we are in now.

      But, until they DO THE RIGHT THING and make these and more innovative programs available, it is up to us to demand our states request funding for them.

      Soteria was so successful, it was shut down. Mosher was a head doctor at Nat’l Institute of Mental Health, and his work (along with other similar models) showed that people had better recovery outcomes without use of drugs (or very minimal use for short periods). Had he not been fired for his success, we would all have access to such programs now (his was on the West Coast).

      However, Vermont is just getting its own Soteria off the ground and Alaska is working to improve the success with its program (though having to deal a lot with people who have been harmed by the current system – rather than first-break cases). UK and Switzerland also have Soteria programs.

      this petition has more info

      • Rosemary says:

        My head>neck injured son with a blocked neck artery, now aged 43, is always okay when he wakes up in the morning but becomes progressively more distraught as the day goes on and the more he uses up the basic brain nutrients which have accrued in the night, and especially if he hasn’t recently taken the Aripi anty psychotic medication.

        There are two main factors.

        When his cerebral oxygen and other brain nutrient concentrations are diminished he as the day goes on is suffering from an oxygen and nutrient deficiency crisis and needs two things:

        Immediate sleep, or at least a lie down in a quiet room, with music and earphones if his loose tapes are acting up as a result of the excess dopamine.

        Anti psychotic medication to counteract the oxygen and nutrient deficit stress related excess dopamine production which causes the loose tapes.

        Any explanation of people having to use anti psychotics which does not explain the science is surreal and misleading.

  12. At wit's end Mom says:

    My daughter sustained a severe TBI with shearing in 1998. she started to display paranoia symptoms in approx 2005 when she switched epilepsy meds from depakote to topamax. I have not been able to get her help or convince anyone that her problems are due to the TBI. She divorced her husband due to her paranoia. I haven’t been able to convince her to get health insurance since then (July 2011).She was committed 2 weeks ago with auditory hallucinations – she has lost her job and will probably lose what’s left of her insurance settlement to hospital bills.

  13. Dianne Jennings says:

    My son had a TBI at age 19. He said he started hearing voices after regaining consciousness. While unconscious he had a temp of 106.8 for over 5 hours. He did not tell anyone about the voices until recently, 3 years later, because he was scared he would be considered to be crazy and would be locked up in a mental institution. He was hospitalized for 3 days and was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and put on medication..Risperdal to be specific. He had a closed head injury after being knocked off a truck at work.
    The neuropsychologist we saw today said he doesn’t think the accident has anything to do with the schizophrenia but the person my son is today is 180 degrees from what he was prior to the accident.
    My question, I guess, is could the schizophrenia be a result of the TBI?

    • Rosemary says:

      One reason why clinicians cannot comprehend that schizophreniform symptoms are the result of a head or head to neck injury is because they cannot measure the amount of oxygen in the basilar artery feeding so much of the brain, and have this weird idea that a blocked neck artery is always compensated by the other three neck arteries when any plumber would tell them it isn’t.

      You need to ask for a clinician who is sufficiently alert to be able to reconcile tbi and schizophreniform symptoms otherwise your son will continue to be misdiagnosed by people who prefer to rely on their training than Google appropriately.

  14. Anonymous says:

    guardian says: My sister had an automobile accident while in her 40’s. She was knocked unconscious at the time. Several years later she began to have delusions of granduer and see and hear voices and demons. She had become very religious about the same time. She has been diagnosed with schizophrenia since then but she still believes she is just at a higher consciousness level and has been given the gift of insight. She is on medication now but has been hospitalized at least 4 times with symtoms. She is 65 now.

  15. brainrobber says:

    33 — yes, and I feel many are denying the effects of brain damage and making things worse by adding brain-damaging drugs.

    even those who acknowledge brain damage say only to be careful with the drugs and don’t acknowledge their brain-damaging effects.

    we live in a drug-centered world and the pharm industry is ruling it.

  16. brainrobber says:

    I would suggest that the man forced to take Risperdal connect with Mindfreedom International and online

    Also read Robert B Whitaker’s work, among others, showing that any positive effects of antipsychotics can only be with very short-term use.

    I would suggest trying EMPower Plus and/or contacting the Brain Bio Centre for those in the UK – or just the website for anyone else

    The Brain Bio Centre supports the orthomolecular approach and there is a website for the orthomolecular treatments as well

    I have evidence in a book by Dr. Gualtieri on Brain Damage that antipsychotics cause damage and will not work for some WITHOUT taking vitamins (mostly B and the antioxidants) along with it, but Gualtieri is a jerk and will not tell patients this now, though he published info in his book even confirming that vitamin deficiencies (folate and B12 in particular) can cause psychosis.

    Robert B Whitaker’s award-winning jouranalism has already prompted in America a new foundation for excellence in mental health care – with emphasis on JUDICIAL use of psychotropic drugs.

    Finland has Open Dialogue and Soteria Houses are re-emerging.

    WE MUST START DEMANDING proper screening for psychiatric symptoms, and recognition that brain injury (and other physcial conditions) does cause psychosis.

    I have a study by Arcinegas (spelling ?) that confirms the brain injury- psychosis connection.

    And it is a fact that antipsychotics also CAUSE brain damage – -see Grace E Jackson’s affidavit online on

  17. Tina Bontya says:

    In Sept 2006, my son, who is now 34, was in an auto accident and sustained a closed head injury. Since that time, he has developed a psychosis, diagnosed as schizo-affective, bi-polar with psychosis, shizophrenia, etc. The visual and auditory hallucinations are torturous and continue to get progressively worse and are extremely bizarre. Medication has had minimal effect. He has had several suicide attempts. He has had multiple hospitalizations and been in jail because of the mental illness. Prior to his accident, I believe he suffered from depression, but there was no evidence of psychosis. There is no history of mental illness in the family that I a aware of. If you know of any studies that might help, I would appreciate knowing. The whole family is puzzled by this and would like to know if there is any way to help him.

    • Rosemary says:

      A very proficient cranial osteopath might help but make sure they are aware of the entire background and that your son has someone with him when he is treated in case he abreacts.

      These osteopaths can take the pain out of 50 years back head impact accidents, they gently put the cranium back into shape, and your son will also benefit from the huge amount of knowledge many of them have because their professionalism includes genuine care.

      • Jay Cadre says:

        Hello Rosemary, my brother at the age of 23, was involved in a car accident who suffered a TBI. He was making good progress for a year and a half until 2 months ago he started to feel paranoid and worries about bad things happening to our family. We admitted him to a mental facility at a hospital and they were giving him antipsychotic medicaiton and his reaction to medicaiton was more paranoid, crying, and confused. We do not know what to do. He does get voilent sometimes by punching the wall. In your last comment you mentioned that if someone with a TBI with symptoms of paranoia are not locked up they might kill someone. Please explain more about your comment. Should i be worried about my brother

      • Paul says:

        I tried to make my previous comment a reply to your post, but it didn’t register as “reply” post. I hope this one will, because I would like to hear your opinion.

        Your post at the bottom, about requiring paranoid post-TBI patients to be locked up or on antipsychotics, is the most sickening, gut-wrenching thing I heard in YEARS. Congratulations.

        Like I said in my earlier post: I require stimulants for energy and weed cancel out the stomach pain and lack of appetite that stimulants give me. Before the TBI I didn’t require stimulants. Afterwards, I could barely move a muscle without feeling exhaustion set in quickly.

        This combo makes me jumpy, making me startled noises that people make behind (or around) me. I immediately turn towards the noises, frightened, with my arms instantaneously developing an attack/defence posture. Today, this happened to me 10 times in 1 hour, in a college class I recently started.

        Maybe I’m becoming paranoid, but antipsychotics would make me bedridden again, and long term inpatient hospitalization would drive my parents over the edge.

        My only option is to stay the course, for as long as I can avoid getting caught by the system.

  18. Andrea Duarte-Rambo says:

    At age eight, my normally sweet, child, the “favorite brother” and “peace maker” of our family of 10 had a sudden onset of staring and violent outbursts. One eye was lower/larger than the other. He was awake but non responsive. He would choke slam his baby brother who had been his favorite playmate with one hand and grab me with the other, begging me to pray for him because he could not stop himself and did not know why he was doing this. He complained of seeing his brothers playing on both sides of the street at the same time. He would say he was not real…that I was not real…that he was “on a reality TV show”.

    Over the next several years, he deteriorated, began hearing ghosts and having what appeared to be delusional thinking. He spent ten years of his precious childhood in and out of mental hospitals where he was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, possible Schizophrenia and a dozen other diagnoses. His blood pressure and heart rate would soar to near stroke levels as he was placed on anti psychotics which made him more violent, confused and sick.

    What I did not know was that exactly three days before the sudden onset of the bizarre symptoms, he had sustained a violent blow to the head while in the care of his older siblings who never told me because they had been “afraid of getting into trouble” He had been unconscious for about an hour with blood and fluids leaking from nose, mouth and one ear. This was uncovered by alert neurologists who performed a sleep deprived EEG and questioned our family.

    He was then properly re-diagnosed with a Complex Partial seizure disorder and a frontal lobe brain injury. He had the Cadillac of Genetic testing which showed no genetic pre disposition for any psychiatric disorder including Schizophrenia or Depression. MRI’s of the head showed no shrinkage of grey matter or enlargement of ventricles, often associated with Schizophrenia. He was taken off of Anti psychotics and is improving at a brain injury specialty facility, but it is probably too late for him.

    In talking with other families, I have heard many tales of cases of intentionally hidden head injury where children have presented with psychiatric looking symptoms-often out of fear of “having their children taken away” or worse…a parent who repeatedly bashed their child’s head against the wall and was still int the home…a threat to the family. How can we get doctors to ask the family about the possibility of head injury and watch for non verbal responses?

    Thank you

    • Rosemary Jones says:

      Hi Jay. Hi Paul.

      I’m sorry not to have replied to you regarding this post earlier.

      In the UK, it looks like about 70% of the violent crimes are committed by people who have experienced a head>neck injury, and that’s a lot of people dead or maimed and a lot of children left without a parent.

      The photographs of those 70% convicted of GBH show one of the signs of this injury – the signs being a positional or light discrepancy between the right and left eyes, and depending on where the impact landed.

      A lot of people have this discrepancy who are not at all violent.

      It could be that the person who caused the initial head>neck injury by hitting, also taught their offspring to hit – The Bandura Effect.

      A situation where someone has been taught to hit at a very early age, and who also has a head>neck injury, or some other head injuries, is even more problematic than just having a head>neck injury or a head injury.

      I think that people whose adult offspring are head>neck injured, or even head injured, owe it to their communities to never allow those adult offspring to cause others GBH, which is why I am saying that if someone has an injury that predisposes them to misjudge situations and resort to violence, and there isn’t any one making sure they take symptom containment medications, and don’t take alcohol, excess sugar or street drugs, if that person has ever shown themselves to be violent, they should be sent to be supervised in a psychiatric or head injury place.

      I think no one deserves to be hurt because of the irresponsibility of others, and that it is better to be safe than sorry.

      Obviously, if the injured person is small they are less likely to cause damage.

      Similarly relevant, many injured people deserve to be protected from committing GBH crimes, as they could not bear it if they hurt someone.

      After the catastrophe, they often say things like ‘That was not meant to happen’.

      I hope that makes sense.


      • Paul says:

        So you’re saying I should be locked up?! What about the rest of my life? In the US, there are no such facilities, except for people who plead not guilty by reason of insanity (and only for murder, kidnapping, and sexual crimes).

        Besides, in every place I read about that does long term psychiatric care, there are sadistic/incompetent employees who abuse the patients with excessive restraint periods and excessive medication, and excessive force during takedowns, and a low threshhold for THEIR OWN violence (the said take-downs).

  19. This discussion interests me because my daughter, who has no relatives ever diagnosed with schizophrenia (and none that I know exhibiting the symptoms, and I know many in several generations)- developed psychosis and what appears to be schizophrenia a few months after a head injury.

    However these symptoms did not appear until after she was overdosed with Halcion, which is known, along with benzodiazepine withdrawal, to sometimes cause schizo-like symptoms. (see C. van der Kroef’s report of symptoms in Sept 1979 Lancet).

    She did suffer from depression before the accident, however she never experienced delusions or anything at all like the bizarre behavior that followed the Halcion overdose. She is a different person now and still delusional, confused, and often hostile.

    I have researched some of the anti-depressant drugs she had tried (never seemed to find one that didn’t cause adverse reactions) before the accident and found that at least one she may have taken during that time causes dizziness.

    So it’s possible that anyone taking antidepressants (including those prone to schizo) could be more vulnerable to accidents simply because of the drugs’ side effects.

    It seems to me that there are likely multiple factors involved, however one cause that should certainly be suspect (something preventable) is giving strong drugs to those even suspected of having brain damage.

    • Tina Bontya says:

      How old is your daughter? Some of what you describe sounds like my son. This whole thing is so puzzling.

      • Rosemary says:

        Caution. If someone with schizophreniform symptoms consequent on a head or head>neck injury is paranoid and could be violent, unless they are locked up they need to be on anti psychotic medications because otherwise they might kill someone.

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