Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 521–526 | Cite as

Paedophilia, Invasive Brain Surgery, and Punishment

  • Frederic GilbertEmail author
  • Andrej Vranič
Case Studies


A possible relationship between brain tumours and acquired behavioural changes, including criminal conduct, has been and is still the focus of a multidisciplinary debate (Gilbert and Focquaert 2015). A significant number of clinical cases demonstrating behavioural changes and cognitive impairment due to brain lesions have been reported in the medical literature for many decades (Vidor 1951; Lishman 1968). A previous study we conducted on eighty-six patients suffering from brain lesions, revealing that 38 per cent developed disruptive personality and behavioural changes (including hypersexuality and aggressiveness), aligns with these clinical reports (Vranič and Gilbert 2014). However, even if a correlation between acquired behavioural changes and brain tumours seems to be a plausible medical hypothesis, its exact legal and ethical interpretation is not.

Acquired paedophilia and aggressiveness can be defined as occurring in individuals who have been free of these behaviours...


Aggressiveness Cognitive impairment Cognitive capacities Consent Invasive brain surgery Paedophilia Punishment Tumour 



We would like to thank the JBI anonymous reviewers and editors for their insightful comments. Dr. Frederic Gilbert is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (project number DE150101390). Funding from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Scheme (Project Number CE 140100012) is also gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ethics, Policy & Public Engagement (EPPE), ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), Faculty of ArtsUniversity of TasmaniaTasmaniaAustralia
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity Medical Centre LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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