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Head Cases : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath
by Michael Paul Mason

Overview -

"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.  Read more...


 
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More About Head Cases by Michael Paul Mason
 
 
 
Overview

"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. Michael Paul Mason, born in 1971, is a brain injury case manager based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He writes for "Discover "magazine.

Michael Paul Mason is one of an elite group of neurological experts who appear in the wake of tragic accidents and illnesses and coordinate care that can last a lifetime. In "Head Cases," Mason writes about his encounters with survivors of brain injuries as they struggle to map and make sense of the new worlds they inhabit. We meet a snowboarder whose life became permanently surreal after an errant jump; an "ultraviolent" child who has lost the brain's instinctive check on the impulse to strike out at others; a young man who cannot cry; and an Iraq war veteran whose odd maladies suggest that brain injury will be the war's most conspicuous legacy.
Underlying each of their stories is an exploration into 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, and Mason shares a series of vivid glimpses into brain science, the last frontier of medicine. With personal stories as well as clearly written science, he shows the miracles of the brain's workings and the fragility of the brain and the sense of self, life, and order that resides there. "Head Cases" echoes both Oliver Sacks and Raymond Carver, and is at once illuminating and deeply affecting. "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"

"In "Head Cases," Mason deftly conveys the frustrations and inequities of traumatic brain injury . . . Mason describes the day-to-day life on a brain injury ward, where the staff may wear kickboxing pads into one patient's room, rain gear into another's. He explains that emotional tears, unlike the tears produced by, say, cutting an onion, contain manganese; since depressed people have high manganese levels, one theory holds that crying helps lower the levels. Mason describes a trip to Iraq and its miraculous Balad Hospital, where Air Force surgeons have treated the bulk of the 10,000 traumatic head injuries the war on terror has so far occasioned (and that's just the American heads) . . . Mason 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
""In these cases, and several others like them, Mr. Mason's accomplishment is formidable, restoring to each subject a measure of human dignity, achieving through sympathy and curiosity insight like that which pulses through genuine literature. These are not people whose lives have ended, he suggests, only changed, and we recognize in their jagged, altered lives something like allegories for our own experience."--Casey Schwartz, "The New York Sun
""As a writer, Mr. Mason stakes out a position midway between Oliver Sacks and Oprah Winfrey. He goes light on the science, presenting his case studies primarily as human dramas. We meet the loved ones, revisit the hometowns, relive in minute detail the horrific accidents that caused the injuries."--William Grimes, "The New York Times"
"Vivid, heartbreaking and] movingly written."--"The Seattle Times
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"These stories are really engaging and would be enlightening to any neuroscientist who wants to find out more about the human outcomes of brain injury . . . A passionate series of vignettes that sympathetically illuminates what happens to people after brain injury."--"Nature Neuroscience"
"Mason's words will touch your heart but more importantly open your eyes to the harsh realities endured by mounting numbers of traumatic brain injury survivors."--Michael Wallis, "Tulsa World"
"Mason visited Iraq, so his experiences will give readers information they've been sheltered from too long. But no less vivid, heartbreaking or movingly written are other cases. In 'The Hermit of Hollywood Boulevard, ' for instance, a snowboard crash left a young man with more than 120 seizures monthly. After exhausting his options as well as his family's finances, he committed himself to a psychiatric crisis unit, his only venue for free care."--Irene Wanner, "The Seattle Times"
"There's no shortage of books on neurological patients with brain injuries, but "Head Cases," . . . is one of my recent favorites. Mason brings a unique perspective to the tragic tales, as he

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374531959
  • ISBN-10: 0374531951
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Publish Date: April 2009
  • Page Count: 310


Related Categories

Books > Psychology > Neuropsychology
Books > Medical > Neuroscience

 
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