Self-generated expressions of residual complaints following brain injury

Brown, D., Rose, D. and Lyons, E. (2009) Self-generated expressions of residual complaints following brain injury. NeuroRehabilitation, 24(2), pp. 175-183. ISSN (print) 1053-8135


Following brain injury there is often a prolonged period of deteriorating psychological condition, despite neurological stability or improvement. This is presumably consequent to the remission of anosognosia and the realisation of permanently worsened status. This change is hypothesised to be directed partially by the socially mediated processes which play a role in generating self-awareness and which here direct the reconstruction of the self as a permanently injured person. However, before we can understand this process of redevelopment, we need an unbiassed technique to monitor self-awareness. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 individuals with long-standing brain injuries to capture their spontaneous complaints and their level of insight into the implications of their difficulties. The focus was on what the participants said in their own words, and the extent to which self-knowledge of difficulties was spontaneously salient to the participants. Their responses were subjected to content analysis. Most participants were able to say that they had brain injuries and physical difficulties, many mentioned memory and attentional problems and a few made references to a variety of emotional disturbances. Content analysis of data from unbiassed interviews can reveal the extent to which people with brain injuries know about their difficulties. Social constructionist accounts of self-awareness and recovery are supported.

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