Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath
Farrar Straus Giroux, Paperback, 9780374531959, 310pp.
Publication Date: April 28, 2009
Head Cases takes us into the dark side of the brain in an astonishing sequence of stories, at once true and strange, from the world of brain damage. Michael Paul Mason is one of an elite group of experts who coordinate care in the complicated aftermath of tragic injuries that can last a lifetime. On the road with Mason, we encounter survivors of brain injuries as they struggle to map and make sense of the new worlds they inhabit.
Underlying each of these survivors' stories is an exploration of the brain and its mysteries. When injured, the brain must figure out how to heal itself, reorganizing its physiology in order to do the job. Mason gives us a series of vivid glimpses into brain science, the last frontier of medicine, and we come away in awe of the miracles of the brain's workings and astonished at the fragility of the brain and the sense of self, life, and order that resides there. Head Cases " achieves] through sympathy and curiosity insight like that which pulses through genuine literature" (The New York Sun); it is at once illuminating and deeply affecting.
“Powerfully written . . . Head Cases sounds an alarm bell for our healthcare system.” —Oliver Sacks “Mason deftly conveys the frustrations and inequities of traumatic brain injury . . . [He] performs a valuable service by calling attention to the plight of the brain injured . . . I had come to think of neurological dysfunction as an almost fanciful affliction, its victims like characters in a work of magical realism. Mason has provided a needed, and sobering, account of reality.” —Mary Roach, The New York Times Book Review “One of my recent favorites . . . A sensitive and intelligent work.” —Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist “Vivid, heartbreaking [and] movingly written.” —Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times