Monthly Archives: June 2013

IF: “If I can throw a single ray of light across the darkened pathway of another…”

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History Through Storytelling: Jeff Shaara’s Journey Through the Legacy This video traces the highlights of Shaara’s dramatic and multifaceted life, from his promising youth in Jersey City to his stints as a paratrooper, amateur boxer, policeman and teacher…from the triumph of winning the Pulitzer Prize to the tragedy … Continue reading

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MICHAEL SHAARA MICHAEL SHAARA Michael Shaara was born in 1928 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Italian immigrants (“Shaara” was originally spelled “Sciarra”). He graduated from Rutgers University and it was during his college days that he knew his … Continue reading

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Writer and Blogger Randy Howard’s Head Injury

Writer and blogger Randy Howard talks with host Gary McLouth about his head injury in 1995 and how that injury has now inspired Howard to write his upcoming book.

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“Success to oth…

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What Does it Feel Like to be Brain Damaged?

What Does it Feel Like to be Brain Damaged?

By Frederick R. Linge, Clinical Psychologist


It is generally accepted that people working with individuals who have any type of handicap, should have a certain amount of empathy with their clients and should strive to understand how their clients feel and think. People working with those who are brain damaged have a particularly hard time doing so. One can have some understanding of what it means to be blind by simply closing one?s eyes; yet how can a normal person understand what it feels like to be brain damaged?

I am in the unusual position of being a trained clinical psychologist who suffered brain damage and who has slowly recovered most of my facilities. In other words, I have been on the outside looking in, and also, on the inside looking out at the world of the brain damaged person. At this point in my recovery, I have a foot in both worlds, for I can remember what it felt like to be completely normal intellectually, and also what it felt like when loss of function was at its worst.

Perhaps this informal and very subjective narrative may be of some help in assisting normal people to empathize a little better with the brain damaged individual. For, unfortunately, most brain damaged people are unable to explain precisely how they feel; those who have been brain damaged since birth, of course, have never had the experience of functioning normally and thus have no standard of comparison of their present state with that of others.

In brief then, I have found that internal and external factors must mesh smoothly in order for the brain damaged person to reach their fullest potential and cope with his/her disabilities. An accurate diagnosis of the deficits must be made and must be understood and accepted by the individual and by those closely involved with their rehabilitation. The individual and family must be motivated to pursue the fullest development of his/her potential. Challenges and responsibilities must be provided as he/she progresses, permitting a growing sense of self-worth and involvement in the real world. Environment at home and at school or work must be structured to maximize learning.
One last word. No one really knows just how great an individual’s potential is. In my case, I was given a slim chance of survival and it was thought that I would be a human vegetable if I did live. Instead, I am living a full and productive life and in fact, can honestly say that I enjoy it more than I ever did before. People close to me tell me that I am easier to live with and work with, now that I am not the highly self-controlled person that I used to be. My emotions are more openly displayed and more accessible. Partially due to the brain damage that precludes any storing up of emotion, and partially due to the maturational aspects of this whole life threatening experience. I have come through the crises in my life with more respect for myself and more trust in others. My new openness of feeling makes it easier for me to communicate with others and for others to understand me. People know where they stand with me at all times and trust me more.
Furthermore, my blood pressure is amazingly low! My one-track mind seems to help me take each day as it comes without excessive worry, as I enjoy the simple things of life in a way I never did before. As well, I seem to be a more effective therapist, since I stick to the basic issues at hand and have more empathy with others than I did previously.
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