ABC News, among other media outlets, carries a story on the Benoit situation. As we all remember Chris Benoit started the summer of steroids rolling by committing a heinous homi-suicide when he killed his wife and 7 year-old son, then hung himself in his home gym. The bizarre ritualistic nature of the killings -- bound his wife's hands and legs, put bibles by the bodies, then waited a day before snuffing himself -- promoted many to wildly speculate about causes.
The Benoit debate implicated 'roid rage, other drugs in his system (Xanax and narcotics), chronic multiple concussions, and psychosis. The logical conclusion to such a bizarre episode is that Benoit was indeed psychotic, a psychosis brought on my multiple factors, none more important than others, but certainly a lethal mix.
Today's information, adds to the complexity of the story. However, given the superficial one track nature of public thinking (there must be ONE cause), this story can be misleading too.
Benoit's brain was analyzed by a neurosurgeon (Dr. Bailes) at West Virginia, who is concerned about chronic concussions. He found evidence in the postmortem, that the brain suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI):
They found that Benoit's brain showed an advanced form of dementia that appears on the brain scan as brown clumps or tangles. These brown spots are actually dead brain cells, killed off as a result of head trauma, said Bailes.
In Benoit's case, the damage was found in every section of the brain — all four lobes and deep into the brain stem.
"It was extensive throughout Chris' brain," Bailes said. "This is something you should never see in a 40-year-old."
The damage is proof, Bailes said, that Benoit suffered multiple, probably chronic, concussions over the course of many years.
Dementia is a behavioral syndrome when loss of orientation, memory and intelligence occurs. In the early stages, there may be subtle loss of mental function. However, the condition must be documented behaviorally and psychologically. We are unsure of this in Benoit's case.
If the brain showed signs of chronic damage - traumatic brain injury - then Benoit could clearly suffer psychiatric symptoms such as a psychosis based on the TBI...this would be called a Personality Change due to TBI, or a psychosis brought on by chronic head trauma (note the references).
To make this complex situation even more complex, Benoit's murderous behavior, uncharacteristic for him, was likely due to a number of factors, of which anabolic steroids figured in. He was suffering from traumatic brain damage causing behavioral, psychological, and psychotic changes. He exacerbated those problems with a mix of psychoactive drugs like Xanax and narcotics. And he added to the aggressiveness with anabolic steroids.