Advertisement

Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 121–133 | Cite as

Coming Back to Oneself: A Case of Anoxic Brain Damage from a Phenomenological Perspective

  • Elisabeth L’orange FürstEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Struck by a cardiac arrest that lasted 3/4 of an hour, a 53-year-old man suddenly collapsed one day at work. The result was a serious anoxic brain damage that developed into dementia. This essay presents the process of ‘coming back to himself’ while it questions what this concept might imply. The descriptions and analyses rest upon an ethnographic study of his life, at hospitals and then at home, assisted by his wife, who is also the author of this article. Theoretically, the analysis depends on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception and is also based on the therapeutic use of music in treating people with dementia championed by Oliver Sachs. It is argued that the field of medicine has much to learn from the anthropological method of long-term observation, as well as theories of embodiment that see the body as simultaneously being an object and a subject.

Keywords

Anoxic brain damage Dementia in young people The phenomenological “bodysubject” Music therapy Rehabilitation 

References

  1. Bourdieu, Pierre 1990 La Domination Masculine. Actes de la Rechere en Sciences Sociales 84: 2–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Engelsrud, Gunn and Kristin Heggen, eds. 2007 Humanistisk Sykdomslære (Humanistic Textbook on Illness). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  3. Fehr, Drude von der 2008 Når Kroppen Tenker (When the Body Thinks). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  4. Fürst, Elisabeth L’orange 1990 Kroppens Tvetydighet (The Ambiguity of the Body). Sosiologisk Årbok 6(1): 11–35.Google Scholar
  5. Fürst, Elisabeth L’orange 1995 Mat—et annet språk. Rasjonalitet, Kropp og Kvinnelighet (Food—Another Language. Rationality, Body and Femininity). Oslo: Pax Forlag.Google Scholar
  6. Fürst, Elisabeth L’orange 2002 Aktør, Subjekt og Kropp—et Epistemologisk Tilbakeblikk (Actor, Subject and Body—in Epistemological Retrospect). Kvinneforskning 26(3): 27–37.Google Scholar
  7. Goldstein, Kurt 1952 The Effect of Brain Damage on the Personality. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes 15: 245–260.Google Scholar
  8. Haug, Frigga 1987 Female Sexualization: A Collective Work of Memory. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  9. Johannisson, Karin 2007 Sykdommens Hjemløshet og Diagnosens Makt (The homelessness of Disease and the Power of Diagnosis). In Humanistisk Sykdomslære. Gunn Engelsrud og Kristin Heggen, eds., pp. 15–24. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  10. Kleinman, Arthur 2009 Caregiving: The Odessy of Becoming More Human. The Lancet 373 (9660): 292–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Luria, Alexander Romanovich 1975 The Man with a Shattered World. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice 1962 The Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  13. Myskja, Audun 2011 Integrated Music in Nursing Homes—an Approach to Dementia Care [PhD dissertation]. Bergen: University of Bergen.Google Scholar
  14. Pink, Sarah 2012 Situating Everyday Life. Practices and Places. Los Angeles: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Romsland, Grace Inga 2011 Kognitiv Svikt (Cognitive Deficiency). Oslo: Gyldendal.Google Scholar
  16. Ruud, Even 1997 Musikk og identitet (Music and Identity). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.Google Scholar
  17. Ruud, Even2003 Musikalsk Identitet (Musical Identity). GRUS 24 (69): 6–24.Google Scholar
  18. Sachs, Oliver 2007 Musicophilia. Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  19. Sachs, Oliver1993 The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. New York: Tuchstone.Google Scholar
  20. Stene-Johansen, Knut and Frederik Tygstrup, eds. 2010 Illness in Context. Probing the Boundaries. Netherlands: Rodopi Edition B.V.Google Scholar
  21. Vickhoff, Bjørn 2008 A Perspective Theory of Music Perception and Emotion [PhD dissertation]. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social AnthropologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations