Monday, March 1, 2010

Useless expertise

Some time ago a neurobiologist in her 40s who had been denied tenure went to work armed, and during a departmental meeting opened fire killing three of her colleagues. She had suffered from recurrent fits of rage since her youth, and 24 years ago had even shot and killed her younger brother – an incident covered up by her caring family and local community. This seems like a variation of a common orbitofrontal syndrome resulting in emotional disinhibition and impulsivity. It is strange that she was unable to diagnose herself, despite that Harvard Ph.D. she boasted – maybe a sign of the extent to which brain dysfunction can cloud even expert judgment.