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Traumatic Brain Injury with Personality Change: a Challenge to Mental Capacity Law in England and Wales

Whiting, Demian



It is well documented that people with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can undergo personality changes, including becoming more impulsive in terms of how they behave. Legal guidance and academic commentary support the view that impulsiveness can render someone decisionally incompetent as defined by English and Welsh law. However, impulsiveness is a trait found within the healthy population. Arguably, impulsiveness is also a trait that gives rise to behaviours that should normally be tolerated even when they cause harm to the person enacting the behaviours. The purpose of this paper is to show why both of these considerations present as significant challenges to the law in England and Wales.


Whiting, D. (2020). Traumatic Brain Injury with Personality Change: a Challenge to Mental Capacity Law in England and Wales. Psychological Injury and Law, 13(1), 11-18.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 22, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2019
Publication Date 2020-03
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 19, 2020
Journal Psychological Injury and Law
Print ISSN 1938-971X
Electronic ISSN 1938-9728
Publisher Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Pages 11-18
Keywords Mental capacity; Traumatic brain injury; Personality change; Impulsivity; Deliberation; Sovereignty rights
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 10 September 2019; Accepted: 22 October 2019; First Online: 5 December 2019


Published article (313 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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