Possibilities and constraints of the young adult brain damaged body


People surviving traumatic brain injury (TBI) often have physical, mental and cognitive disabilities despite the official rehabilitation goal of regaining independence. The mental and cognitive disability negatively impacts their short-term memory, concentration and attention span, leading to frequent mood fluctuations and lack of motivation. Drawing on Braidotti’s (2011) work and conception that all life can be seen as a journey of realisation and ’becoming’, this paper examines the actual practices and representations that constitute the TBI body as an ongoing practical achievement. Based on qualitative interviews with 5 TBI-survivors in their 20s 5 years post-injury, the paper focuses on how the body is used as means of classification, inclusion and differentiation to become somebody. I find an array of strategies and techniques that are adopted to avoid what is perceived as brain-damage behaviours and practices to help the young TBI-survivors’ with the desire for, or achievement of, educational success. These strategies include attempts to moderate fears about academic capabilities and struggles to overcome what they perceive to be the differences between themselves and their peers. As academic performance and social comfort is inconstant and unpredictable, the TBI-survivors incorporate their frustration about bodily limitations with their sense of growth and accomplishment. Giving up goals and accepting bodily limitations is a difficult transition and for some it includes the need to grieve the loss of future plans, confidence, and perceived status. The study concludes that there is a need to acknowledge the heterogeneity of TBI-survivors and their experiences, and viewing them as moving from dependency to independence is de-humanising.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventChronic Living: quality, vitality, and health in the 21st century - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 23 Apr 202025 Apr 2020


ConferenceChronic Living
Internet address

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