Michael Paul Mason Talks About Partial Death Syndrome

BrainLine got the chance to catch up with Michael Paul Mason about his role as a brain injury case manager and writer and talked with him about partial death syndrome and the spiritual nature of brain injury.

There's a strange name for an effect that a person feels after traumatic injury. It's called Partial Death Syndrome. It happens to some cases where people feel as if the old person, or the person they were prior to their injury, has died, and a new person has sort of resumed their identity. They feel that much change in who they are. And so this feeling, I think, occurs on a spectrum. Some people may feel just a little bit different. Some people actually feel as though they are better people following the injury, and some people feel just so bereaved by what they've lost that they have a tremendous difficulty accepting life with a brain injury. I call brain injury the most spiritual injury because it's the one kind of injury that forces a person to ask who they really are, and that question of, "Who am I?" is so central to so many different spiritual traditions that it really opens up the door for transformation in many cases. I read about a woman in my book, named Melissa Felto, who was a very type A, corporate executive, and following her injury, she had this sort of radical transformation where she, after a very long struggle, was able to deal with herself in a way that embraced who she was after the injury, and she did this with the help of meditation and a spiritual practice of some kind. But, it was that element of questioning who she was and embracing that that really led her to a type of recovery that I think is very special. And I've heard a lot of other survivors echo a similar thing.
Posted on BrainLine December 1, 2008.