Making a murderer: Media renderings of brain injury and Aaron Hernandez as a medical and sporting subject

Publication date: Available online 12 October 2019Source: Social Science &MedicineAuthor(s): Hollin GregoryAbstractThis paper examines the entanglement of medicine, brain injury, and subjectivity within newspaper discourse and through the case of ex-American footballer Aaron Hernandez. In 2017, two years after being found guilty of murder and five years after scoring in the Super Bowl, Aaron Hernandez died by suicide in his prison cell. Hernandez was posthumously diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease associated with violence, depression, and dementia-like symptoms. I examine newspaper coverage of the Hernandez case, focusing upon the murder, arrests, conviction, suicide, and diagnosis of CTE in order to examine understandings of Hernandez's subjectivity. I make three conclusions: First, the disease is not mentioned prior to diagnosis with family instability, friendship groups, individual psychology, and the entitlement of celebrity foregrounded. Second, CTE is foregrounded after the diagnosis and is used to explain much of Hernandez's behaviour. Third, the diagnosis of CTE goes someway to normalizing the behaviour of Hernandez, rendering his behaviours comprehensible. I conclude by considering how the specific narrative of CTE-as-acquired-dementia shapes depictions of Hernandez's subjectivity and discuss how this case troubles existing literatures on the neurologization of selfhood.
Source: Social Science and Medicine - Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Source Type: research

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