What Was Behind Those Befuddling McCain Questions?

As reported in the New York Times last month, during Senate hearings questioning former FBI Director James Comey, Senator John McCain pursued an odd line of questioning: If they had come to a conclusion in the Clinton investigation, why hadn’t they done the same in the Trump investigation?

Pundits quickly began to question what was wrong with McCain: The Clinton investigation took place more than 20 years ago. It’s not at all related to today’s hearings, in which legislators are trying to determine if the Trump administration colluded with Russia during the last election cycle. “Is he losing his marbles?” political observers asked.

Then, last week, Sen. McCain had a 5-centimeter blood clot removed from behind his eye. Though there’s no way to prove this, I think that McCain’s odd questions may have been related to that blood clot. I often tell elders and their families that dementia has many causes, but they all constitute brain damage. It’s both fascinating and terrifying when you realize how just a small injury to the brain can result it big behavioral and cognitive problems.

John McCain’s blood clot formed behind his eye, in the frontal lobe. This part of the brain governs reason and judgment. It’s the part of the brain that governs our social interactions, that keeps us from doing inappropriate things.

When the front lobe gets injured—whether from a concussion, stroke, tumor, Alzheimer’s disease, or a blood clot like McCain’s—it can cause all kinds of problems: personality changes, mood swings. Those with frontal lobe damage may say inappropriate things. They may be sexually inappropriate. Their thinking may become unclear. And yes, they may even ask weird questions at a Senate hearing.

If your loved one suddenly starts acting strange, do these things:

• See your doctor.

• Ask for an imaging scan of the head, a CAT scan or an MRI. These tests will show strokes, tumors or blood clots.