Letters to the Editor

Damaged brains, negative behavior

I recently moved to Coupeville from Alaska, where I was involved in the practice of psychology. During my 30 years of involvement in this field, I developed some expertise in the brain trauma called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Before I moved here, like many, I had become aware of the so-called, “Barefoot Bandit.” I watched his sentencing on the news and one of the things I took note of was that the judge put on record that he experiences the damage that maternal alcohol ingestion can and frequently does cause to the fetal brain. She addressed his impulsivity which is a primary hallmark of FASD. And then she sentenced him to seven years in jail for acts he committed, it would seem in large part due to his brain damage. It should be noted that she too noted the abusive upbringing he withstood and that research supports the damage this does to the developing brain.

I am not condoning his behavior and I am not minimizing the damage done to his victims. I am only trying to bring to light one of the most underdiagnosed and damaging afflictions in our society. Our jails are filled with undiagnosed FASD. It is time our legislators and medical community familiarize themselves with this issue and start to fix the problems that bring people into the misunderstood world of addiction, abuse and what we would rather call criminal behavior than the damaged brains that cause the behavior.

Barry Levit



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