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Self-Serve Brains

Personal identity veers to the right hemisphere

By
12:24pm, February 7, 2006

The concept of identity theft assumes an entirely new meaning for people with brain injuries that rob them of their sense of self—the unspoken certainty that one exists as a person in a flesh—bounded body with a unique set of life experiences and relationships. Consider the man who, after sustaining serious brain damage, insisted that his parents, siblings, and friends had been replaced by look-alikes whom he had never met. Everyone close to him had become a familiar-looking stranger. Another brain-injured patient asserted that his physicians, nurses, and physical therapists were actually his sons, daughters-in-law, and coworkers. He identified himself as an ice skater whom he had seen on a television program.

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