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The Most Unbelievable True Stories of How Brain Damage Changed People

Updated June 18, 2020 52.6k votes 12.5k voters 1.8m views13 items

List RulesVote up the stories about brain damage totally changing a person's personality that shock you the most.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body, and as such, any injury to it can have a profound impact on an individual. Brain damage can result from a number of diagnoses, including strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and brain tumors. On this list, you will discover some of the craziest and most interesting cases of brain damage changing personalities, behaviors, emotions, and skills.

One of the most famous cases of brain damage causing personality changes is that of Phineas Gage. In the 1800s, a tamping iron went through his head when he was working on a railroad. Reports claim that, after surviving the accident, Gage's personality was drastically altered. This particular case of brain injury was significant in the fields of neurology and psychology, as it suggested a link between the frontal lobe of the brain and personality.

From newfound artistic talent to criminal behavior, here are some of the craziest stories of people whose personalities changed after brain damage.
  • 1

    Chiropractor Becomes an Artist

    Video: YouTube
    In August 1989, 35-year-old Jon Sarkin suffered a stroke and underwent surgery that removed part of his brain. After the surgery, Sarkin had the inexplicable urge to draw, something he had no interest in before. Sarkin became a prolific artist and his work has been shown around the world.
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  • 2

    Salesman Becomes a Mathematical Genius

    Video: YouTube
    In 2002, Jason Padgett was assaulted by two men and left with a severe concussion. Remarkably, the attack also turned Padgett into a mathematical genius and gave him the ability to visualize geometric shapes and angles. He is one of just a few people in the world this has happened to; it's called "acquired savant syndrome."
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  • 3

    Man Loses the Ability to Feel Sad

    Video: YouTube
    Ever since he suffered a stroke in 2004, Malcolm Myatt has been unable to feel sadness. The stroke affected his frontal lobe, which is the region of the brain that regulates emotions. Myatt sees being happy all the time as an advantage.
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  • 4

    Doctor Becomes a Pianist After Being Struck by Lightning

    Video: YouTube
    In 1994, 42-year-old orthopedic surgeon Tony Cicoria was talking to his mother on a pay phone when he was suddenly struck by lightning. A few weeks after the incident, he developed a penchant for piano music and began teaching himself to play. Prior to his near death experience, Cicoria was indifferent to music, but was now driven to spend his days composing. He continues to work as a surgeon and a pianist.
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