Doing Resilience with “Half a Brain:” Navigating Moral Sensibilities 35 Years After Hemispherectomy
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- Hatala, A.R., Waldram, J.B. & Crossley, M. Cult Med Psychiatry (2013) 37: 148. doi:10.1007/s11013-012-9294-7
This paper investigates experiences of resilience in the context of individuals suffering from disability as a result of severe intractable seizure disorder and consequent hemispherectomy, a surgical procedure in which part or all of either the left or right cerebral hemisphere is removed. Two adults who underwent childhood hemispherectomies—one left and one right—are the focus of this study. Previous research has extensively detailed the clinical outcomes of this neurological procedure, yet the actual day-to-day experiences of individuals living post-hemispherectomy remains unexplored. Utilizing open-ended, qualitative, and narrative techniques from a phenomenology of performativity perspective, the authors question how each individual’s experiences of daily living are invariably acts of resilience, involving several different strategies that are somewhat unique to each. Rather than working as an adjective or noun signifying certain environmental or individual attributes, this paper proposes that “resilience” is best conceptualized as the individualized intentional actions which disabled, distraught, or at risk individuals perform in contextually relevant and idiosyncratic ways as they navigate health and well-being within their local social and moral worlds.