On February 12, 1988 Joe Biden underwent surgery to repair damage done by a brain aneurism. Blood was leaking in his brain and it required an immediate operation. His condition was so serious that he received Last Rites from a Catholic priest. On May 4, 1988 he underwent a second surgery to continue the process of putting his brain back into working order. Based on his performance in last week’s vice presidential debate these procedures may not have been entirely successful.
Full recovery from any kind of a medical episode involving a brain aneurysm is never a sure thing. “Recovery to normal” is subjective. Those who regain their physical strength and coordination can perform manual labor and might never seem the worse for the episode. Those whose occupations require mental dexterity might not be so lucky. Nevertheless, because the brain is such a complex organ the ill effects of an aneurysm might not show up immediately. They might even show up gradually over the remainder of the victim’s life.
When a victim has had such an episode there is always the possibility of the sufferer falling prey to Pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which results in emotional lability or swings in emotions that can result in involuntary crying, involuntary laughing or both.
PBA can sometimes occur as a result of brain damage of the kind sustained by those who have suffered an aneurysm as Joe Biden did. Those who suffer from PBA may display incongruent emotional responses. When frustrated or angry they can laugh uncontrollably.
PBA sufferers may laugh at sad news or even switch from laughing to crying after a very brief interval.
During Biden’s closing remarks the other night he said, “You probably detected my frustration with their attitude toward the American people…..” This very well could have been his way to try to explain away his bizarre laughing and mugging. What other purpose could he have had?
I’m not a doctor. I have no special knowledge in these matters. I do have a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Counseling. I do know how to do research and I do understand medical terms. My conclusion about the cause of Biden’s bizarre and incongruent behavior is that it comes from his having suffered a brain aneurysm. The scary part is he is one heartbeat away from running our lives.