The mother of the 18-year-old Israeli-American suspected of making hundreds of fake bomb threats at American Jewish institutions said she wants him to get brain surgery to get rid of the tumor his family claims was a cause of his behavior, but doctors question her claim.
One expert says that such a tumor usually causes sensory issues and and not behavioral problems. “I’m not saying it is impossible,” said Jeffrey Cohen, the chair of the neurology department at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire. “It would just be in the realm of something so rare we would write a medical article about it.”
According to the teen’s lawyer, Shira Nir, he has a benign tumor in a part of the brain known as the foramen of monro, which is a passage for spinal fluid. A tumor in that spot can block the flow of spinal fluid and cause a condition called hydrocephalus, which can affect consciousness, and lead to headaches, visual problems, weakness and memory loss, said Cohen. He said it would be “very unusual” for a tumor in that region to cause a person to make violent threats, though not totally out of the question.
Martin Lazar, a neurosurgeon in Dallas, said that there is a “reasonably plausible argument” that such a tumor could cause “behavioral abnormalities,” and said he knew of a small number of cases where this occurred.
“That does not excuse or condone criminal behavior and none that I have seen were accused of criminality,” he said in an email.