My Latent Self Anne Ricketts

My Latent Self

Recovering My Soul After Brain Injury
Recovering My Soul After Brain Injury


I don’t want to go into the specifics or into the general understandings about how the experts currently think that memory works here, what I do want to do is to talk about the impact that a loss of some types of memory can have on a person with a brain injury. Be aware that the researchers in this field have no definitive answers as yet, everything is progressive, and nothing is set in stone. There is some great understanding, but new technologies are constantly pushing the boundaries. If you have any specific questions about the way that memory works, I would recommend that you speak to one of your specialists, as they will also be able to understand the context of your questions and your personal concerns. If you don’t have support, please find some. If you get stuck, please contact me and I will do my best to help, and to point you in the right direction. I may not be the best port of call but I fully understand that any port will suffice in the face of a storm…

I think that becoming consciously aware of what specific problems you have with memory may be of help when you are trying to ‘fix’ your broken brain. Give yourself time to learn and to absorb the information you are given. Be patient with yourself, things may take a while before they make sense to you. The memories that you really want back will be entirely personal to you; only you can prioritise their relevance, and importance, in your life as you now know it.

It is very well known that brain injury affects our memories, but how often do we stop to consider how our memories affect us, even when we have access to them?

Every single thing we sense, experience and think is laid down as a memory – whether our judgement about a thing is accurate or not. Whenever the brain recognises that its’ data is corrupt, it will keep repeating experiences, trying to remind us of the inadequacies of our data. The brain is a logical thing, but it is our quiet partner. The brain does not control us or our thinking; the ‘Self’ makes these choices by incorporating absolutely everything that is existent about us, including our conscience, our feelings and our intuition.

I only have the experience of my own experiences, but I believe that there are many common threads that run amongst those of us who live within the aftermath of a TBI.

It didn’t really bother me not having access to my memories about the facts and events that had occurred in my life. Come to that, I wasn’t overly concerned about not remembering the names or faces of the people I knew. What bothered me was not having any access at all to my experiential memories – the memories that make me feel like I know who I am.

The real bane of my life after I fell on my head was the loss of my core beliefs. We need to keep what we really believe within the scope of our working memory, because it is these beliefs that help us to accurately decide what to think about an event when and as it happens, in a conscious way, rather than reacting from our auto-pilot.

Let me give an example. I go into a shop and the assistant is in a bad mood and this manifests as rudeness towards me. Without any core beliefs or experiential memories to fall back on, the likelihood is that I will take this behaviour personally in some way. I may react, I may shirk away, but will either of these behaviours be the result of my conscious choice, or are they merely reactions from my fight or flight instincts or ego? I think the latter…

With my core beliefs I would know that I totally believe that everyone is always doing the best that they can, armed with whatever tools they have in their box. This enables me to halt my auto-reactions, gives me space to pause and sum-up, and allows me to be the conscious ‘me’ when I respond – all within a split second. The core belief automatically brings empathy into the equation and I, the ‘real’ me, would share a look of compassion, a smile and perhaps a comment about knowing how it feels to have a bad day. Instead of becoming embroiled in the negative atmosphere, as we do without even knowing it, I am instead involving real-time choice, rather than automatic responses. I feel as though ‘Annie’ has been involved….

When my core beliefs are coupled with previous experiential memories of how I have handled situations like this pre-injury, then I can also have some awareness about what worked in the past and what did not. I will also know what responses made me feel good and what responses did not. This is my sense of self – knowing about the things that I have worked out in the past through trial and error.

Without my memories about what I believe and about what I have learned throughout my life – I am starting from scratch. I am in auto-pilot mode and having to learn right from the beginning. The problem is, that if my short-term memory isn’t working, then the ‘lessons’ I may have just learned, will fall away from me like loose snow falls off a tree in a spring thaw… It becomes a vicious circle. It feels as though it is impossible to learn ‘new’ things and this is at the very least frustrating, and at the very worst intolerable and painful if we are regaining our self-awareness.

Getting to know our ‘old’ selves again can be a very ‘spiritual’ experience; after all, we are reconnecting with the ‘Whole Self’ that once existed….

Some things that we read or hear resonate with us. You get a tingling feeling or a ‘knowing’ feeling that what you have come across is also true for you. This is why I have written Latent Beliefs as a follow-up to My Latent Self. It is my deepest hope that anyone who has experienced a ‘loss of self’ will find solace in my work…


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(c) 2011 - Anne Ricketts - Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 9EL - Tel: 01983 407557 - Traumatic Brain Injury, Loss of Self, Loss of Soul, Misdiagnosis, Survivors Guide

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