You Are Not Your Brain Injury; You Are You
The loss of self-identity following a TBI can be very difficult for the injured person and his family. But the person is still there with strengths and weaknesses, just like anyone.
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Oh, absolutely, and I think in the sense of identity, the identity of the loved one that you've known pre injury, the identity of the loved one post injury, and it creates that ambiguous loss because, as we were talking, they're still there; it isn't like a death where there's some sort of basic finality there that you're aware of, and so you have to address that with the family members and help them understand the different stages and movements through recovery that their loved one's going to go through. And you also have to work with the individual for the very same thing when you talk about the identity process and their loss of identity of who they are. I think of a person who talked about imagine every day having a headache, walking through total confusion and not understanding it at all, and everyone around you, your family maybe even included, thinks you're crazy. And in fact you're not; you're just suffering from a brain injury that's affected the sense of identity of who you are and your loss of self and how to regain that-- some issues that definitely have to be addressed and very difficult. Those are very difficult issues to address, when someone has lost their self-identity and who they are, and one way to do that is work within their self-concept and help them re-establish the self-concept of who they are. Another way to do that is think in terms of a recent movie I saw called, "I Am Norm" that was put together by some kids back east and understanding a new normal, and getting rid of the "normal," which no one really understands exactly [laughs] what normal really means anyway, and just to help them begin to understand that you still bring certain strengths to the table, you still have certain weaknesses like everyone, and that's-- You are not the injury. You are not the brain injury. You are still yourself and you still have something to offer society your family, and to yourself as far as regaining your identity and what you can do.
Posted on BrainLine November 7, 2012. Reviewed December 25, 2017.
Ron Broughton, MEd, LPC,CBIST is the chief clinical officer at Brookhaven Hospital as well as chairman of the Ethics and Performance Improvement Committees.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.