Less brain is better brain (it surprised me too)

Wednesday, 16. November 2011


I’ve now had enough distance between myself and the eight lost days I spent in intensive care this Autumn alongside the guy who got mauled by a polar bear. At the time I was aware of nothing because I was in a long, morphine induced dream, interrupted only by occasional spoonfuls of food and moments of joy as I saw Cora appearing in front of me. The fact that she often sat with me for many hours did not register at all.

Anyway, whatever they give you for the pain and of course the anaesthetics for the heart surgery, these things take a long time to dissipate, possibly many months more before they’re totally gone. And there are the days of carbon dioxide poisoning known as acidosis to factor in…

Result: hard to say but some of my memory has gone, meaning that for an average thread like this I need to pause for a word to come of use a different word or even resort to a Thesaurus – whereas previously I was a Thesaurus, better than the one in the spell checks. Plus there are other signs: more fatigue; less worked up about things; less immediacy….

In all I would say I’d lost between 10% and 15% of my total mental ability and concern for intellectual outcomes.

But, strangely, it feels better than things were before. I get less impatient. I don’t care so much when people don’t get what I’m saying. The text I’m producing for my novel flows slightly better and seems easier to follow.

In short: being slightly more stupid may be better than being super intelligent. In all kinds of ways: human-wise, in communications, for emotional peace.

2 Responses to “Less brain is better brain (it surprised me too)”



  1. Vincent Says:

    The proposition in your title doesn’t surprise me at all. Have you ever read “The man who mistook his wife for a hat?” There are some sad tales in it but one of the most heart-warming, though still sad, is the one about Rebecca, whose congenital condition had many deleterious effects physically and mentally. The way Oliver Sacks tells it, we admire her dignity and wisdom, though, the simplicity of her passionate attachments – for poetry, music, the liturgies of the synagogue, her grandmother.

    “… at some deeper level there was no sense of handicap, or incapacity, but a feeling of calm and completeness, of being fully alive, of being a soul, deep and high, and equal to all others. Intellectually, then, Rebecca felt a cripple; spiritually, she felt herself a full and complete being.”

    There is also the practice of lobotomy, now historical of course and deeply out of fashion. For some it was a disaster, as I understand it. But for others it brought a much-needed peace.

    Best wishes for the novel. Is it anything to do with bonobos?



  2. RealSteveHolmes Says:

    No, I missed that boat when my first wife got her cancers. It’s something new and different.

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