I was completely
shocked to hear of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit's death this weekend. I was even
more shocked and utterly disappointed to hear that he murdered his wife and son
Benoit was the only performer on WWE that drew my attention due to his
technical wrestling prowess. I was really at a loss to understand the evil that
Benoit perpetuated in the prolonged murder/suicide.
While the media seems to want to make steroids the scapegoat, it may not be the
only driver behind his sickening behavior. There was an interesting article in
the New York Times that suggested that head trauma may have a role The article
In it, former WWE wrestler and Harvard graduate Christopher Nowinski makes the
suggestion that concussions may be the reason and I completely agree. The
deliberate nature of the murder/suicide (e.g., the prolonged acts, the
placements of bibles next to the bodies, the sending of text messages to
colleagues, etc.) do not lend themselves to "Roid Rage".
Unfortunately, Chris was ultimately responsible for these atrocious acts, not
anabolic steroids (this isn't to say unprescribed anabolic steroids aren't bad,
because they are).
Head trauma is coming to light in modern neurological / criminal research as a
primary cause of this type of evil behavior:
"In a similar case many years later, a head injury may have transformed a
man into a serial killer. During an ocean voyage to America in 1945, Raymond
Fernandez, 30, experienced a life-changing event. As the young man climbed a
flight of steps to the ship's main deck, a hatch cover slammed onto the top of
his head. Fernandez suffered a serious concussion and remained in a coma for a
week. When he awoke, it was clear that he had undergone a personality
transformation. Whereas before he was courteous, well mannered and displayed an
even disposition, he soon became argumentative, quick to anger and difficult to
control. Over the next few years, Fernandez may have murdered 17 women with the
help of his girlfriend, Martha Beck. They were eventually executed at Sing Sing
prison in 1951"
"Brain irregularities or physical trauma, such as head injury, may also
play a role in criminality. Although research indicates brain damage can cause
a sudden personality change, it is not true in each and every case."
"Another form of physical trauma linked to serial killers is head
"Gary was malnourished as a child, and he suffered at least one serious
head trauma in elementary school, knocked cold in an accident that left him
unconscious on the playground."
"Head injuries/injuries at birth: Head trauma is one of the most common
patterns uniting serial killers."
"A history of head trauma or head injuries is one of the most strongly
unifying aspects of serial killers. "Henry Lee Lucas, Bobby Joe Long,
Carlton Gary, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Leonard Lake, and John Gacy have all
had either severe head injuries, repeated head traumas, or damage that occurred
during birth . . . Because the primitive brain is the most vulnerable to
injuries occurring on the side of the head--because of the thinness of the
skull at that point and the lack of internal fluid protection--individuals who
have received sustained blows to the side of the head are often at risk."
The neurological evidence suggests that the ritualistic patterns of serial
murderers are actually mirrors of an abnormal electro-chemical process in the
brain caused by head trauma. (Norris, 232)"
This isn't to say that anabolic steroids weren't a contributing factor in his
behavior, I just find that it is a much more tenuous inference to make when the
head trauma argument is both so persuasive and backed by significant research
and evidence (For an interesting news story on the affects of anabolic steroids
see this YouTube Link). The combination of mood-altering hormonal imbalance and
head trauma are deadly.
Chris Benoit made a living in an entertainment field well known for its steel
chair shots to the head and flying headbutts (Benoit's finishing move done from
the top rope for maximum impact) and his autopsy should include not just toxicology
but a CT scan for possible brain damage incurred from
"hardcore"-style wrestling as well.
When and if we open a pro-wrestling school, it will be straight-up wrestling
(shoot-style professional wrestling and competitive catch-as-catch-can). No steel
chair shots to the head, no pressure to look like a "body-builder",
and no intentional head trauma. I think the only positive that can come from
this sickening tragedy is if people are open to learning lessons from it
(regarding domestic abuse, steroids, head trauma, etc.).