The Ghost in My Brain review Ain’t that a kick in the head?

The Ghost in My Brain starts off with Dr Clark Elliott coming close to freezing to death. This happens as he makes the two hour trek from his office to his car in the college parking lot. He goes into mind numbing detail about why this trip is taking him two hours, as opposed to the ten minutes it would take anyone else. He talks about his decision paralysis. About how he knows that he should just lay down and die-only he can’t remember how to lay down. He eventually makes it to his car and some time later, he drives home.

Clark tells how he was in an accident and he bumped his head on the headrest. That’s it. That’s what gave him a concussion and sent his life into the Twilight Zone for eight years. The bulk of the book explains in infinitesimal detail about his life during those eight years. Reading these opening chapters it is baffling that he was able to keep his job, care for his children, rebuild his house, and pass for normal.

This last bit, that apparently no one around him noticed anything was wrong with him, is absolutely amazing. He tells how loud noises would cause him to fall to the ground and cover his head-even while in the middle of a busy street. No one seemed to find this odd. He had a friend he called to guide him home when he got lost one time, after he had driven around for three hours, while ten miles from home. Once home, he didn’t recognize the house and was worried about a dog he didn’t have.He called his kids to ask about the dog. They told him they didn’t have a dog, but didn’t seem to think anything of it.

Doctors are brilliant at fixing things now. Things like setting bones and removing appendixes are easy and commonplace. But unless you happen get Dr House, anything beyond simple mechanical problems can leave Doctors unable to help. Clark discovered that most Doctors hate not having a ready answer. They all shooed him away and told him to get some rest. This to a man who would use both hands to touch the walls to help him keep his balance as he walked and might take ten minutes to answer a simple question.

He had pretty much given up on Doctors, as anyone would, but decides to try one more time. He lucks out and finds Dr. Donalee Markus and Dr. Deborah Zelinsky. They listen to him when he talks. They nod and say we can fix that. Two weeks later, he is back to being a normal human, something he did not believe himself to be for the previous eight years.

The Ghost in My Brain is not always an easy read. Old Doc Elliott is a College Professor and loves him some big ass words and ideas. He also has the annoying habit of talking about Concussives, as if every head injury is exactly alike and they have meetings on Tuesday nights. Being a teacher of Artificial Intelligence he transposes a lot of technical jargon from the field of programing computer brains to how his wetware works. Then there are the many spots where he spends pages detailing how he came to one decision. A little of this goes a long way.

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back is a great book. There is hope here for countless people who have had a head injury and been told to go sit in the corner by their doctors.

I highly recommend it.


Jon Herrera

Jon Herrera

Writer, Photographer, Blogger.
Jon Herrera

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Writer, Photographer, Blogger.

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