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Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark: Reconstructing Life after Brain Injury

Akira Iriye
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnj6s
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  • Book Info
    Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark
    Book Description:

    Traumatic brain injury can interrupt without warning the life story that any one of us is in the midst of creating. When the author's fifteen-year-old son survives a terrible car crash in spite of massive trauma to his brain, she and her family know only that his story has not ended. Their efforts, Erik's own efforts, and those of everyone who helps bring him from deep coma to new life make up a moving and inspiring story for us all, one that invites us to reconsider the very nature of "self" and selfhood. Ruthann Knechel Johansen, who teaches literature and narrative theory, is a particularly eloquent witness to the silent space in which her son, confronted with life-shattering injury and surrounded by conflicting narratives about his viability, is somehow reborn. She describes the time of crisis and medical intervention as an hour-by-hour struggle to communicate with the medical world on the one hand and the everyday world of family and friends on the other. None of them knows how much, or even whether, they can communicate with the wounded child who is lost from himself and everything he knew. Through this experience of utter disintegration, Johansen comes to realize that self-identity is molded and sustained by stories. As Erik regains movement and consciousness, his parents, younger sister, doctors, therapists, educators, and friends all contribute to a web of language and narrative that gradually enables his body, mind, and feelings to make sense of their reacquired functions. Like those who know and love him, the young man feels intense grief and anger for the loss of the self he was before the accident, yet he is the first to see continuity where they see only change. The story is breathtaking, because we become involved in the pain and suspense and faith that accompany every birth. Medical and rehabilitation professionals, social workers, psychotherapists, students of narrative, and anyone who has faced life's trauma will find hope in this meditation on selfhood: out of the shambles of profound brain injury and coma can arise fruitful lives and deepened relationships. Keywords: narrative; selfhood; therapy; traumatic brain injury; healing; spirituality; family crisis; children

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92776-6
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    This book seeks to examine the roles that international organizations play in modern world affairs. There are three principal reasons for undertaking this task. First, there is the obvious fact that international organizations have steadily grown in number and in the scope and variety of their activities since the late nineteenth century, to such an extent that the contemporary world would be incomprehensible without taking them into consideration. Second, most writings on modern world affairs, especially by historians, have nevertheless almost entirely ignored this fact. This scholarly void somehow must be Wlled. And Wnally, a focus on international organizations, rather...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Origins of Global Community
    (pp. 9-36)

    How did the global community, both as an idea and as a reality, emerge and develop? This question may be examined in many ways, but one possible approach would be to look at the creation, growth, and activities of international organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental. The number and functioning of these organizations may be taken as a good measure of the degree of “globality” at a given moment in time, a circumstance that contributes to establishing transnational connections and to shaping a world community existing in conjunction with the international order made up of nations. In this and the following...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The New Internationalism
    (pp. 37-59)

    Shortly before Germany’s spring oVensive began in 1940, Leonard Woolf was reflecting on the meaning of the war and its possible consequences. He had been one of the first writers to stress the theme of global interdependence and, in particular, to note the growing importance of international organizations. He retained his faith in these organizations in the aftermath of the First World War, but as totalitarianism arose and began waging aggressive wars during the 1930s, he grew less and less optimistic about world trends. As another war began in Europe, he was convinced, despite his continued pacifist leanings, that the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Beyond the Cold War
    (pp. 60-95)

    The 1950s are usually seen as a period when the Cold War intensified. According to this view, during the second half of the 1940s, the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union had been largely confined to Europe, and the two sides had mostly employed nonmilitary means to combat each other’s influence, whereas between 1949 and the early 1950s, the Cold War became both more global and militarized. With China falling to the communists and a war breaking out in the Korean peninsula, Asia now became a major theater of the superpower conflict. Other parts of the world,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 More States, More Nonstate Actors
    (pp. 96-125)

    Self-consciousness about global community may have been a key aspect of international relations of the 1960s, a decade that is usually seen through such geopolitical dramas as the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Chinese-Soviet rift. Historians speak of the “eyeballto- eyeball” confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over the latter’s introduction of missiles into Cuba, which was swiftly followed by the superpowers’ agreement to limit nuclear testing and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms. By the end of the decade, Washington and Moscow were pledging not to unleash these weapons against each other,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Growth of Civil Society
    (pp. 126-156)

    Historians agree that international relations entered a new phase during the 1970s. Whereas the period between 1945 and 1970 may possibly be comprehended within the framework of the Cold War—although this book argues that there are other ways of conceptualizing the quarter century—during the 1970s so many drastic changes occurred that the decade may be said to have marked the beginning of a new period of world affairs. Among such transforming events were the rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, the deterioration in Soviet-Chinese relations, and the détente between Washington and Moscow. The...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Toward Global Community
    (pp. 157-194)

    International organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, continued to grow in number and scope during the 1980s and the 1990s. Little was qualitatively different about their activities from what they had been in the preceding decade, but their cumulative and combined importance in the world increased because of the dramatic turn of events at the level of interstate affairs. In most accounts of the last two decades of the twentieth century, the erosion and eventual end of the Cold War are presented as the key themes of international relations, which are then considered to have ushered in a new age known...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 195-210)

    At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, few phenomena attracted more attention, and at the same time aroused more controversy, than globalization. The twentieth century, Ralf Dahrendorf wrote in 1998, “has been largely . . . determined by divisions which led to wars, hot and cold, but which also provided sources of identity.” All that had changed. Globalization had come to “dominate people’s lives, hopes, and fears,” and people everywhere had “to think globally to respond to an increasingly global reality.”¹

    In the rapid advancement in information technology, in the development of a global...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 211-236)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 237-246)