My frontal lobe damage

12 Jun 2017

It has always been important for me to try to understand my Cerebral Palsy symptoms. 8 years after initially finding out I had Cerebral Palsy, I am still finding out things about myself and why I present and act a certain way.

How the emotions work

Emotions can be broken into three categories, primary, secondary, and background emotions. Primary emotions are experienced as a by-product of a stimulus-response chain of events and have been hardwired in our brains over the course of evolution, such as fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and joy.

Secondary and background emotions are the product of an internal feedback loop, while the emotions involved in primary emotional reactions can also play a part in secondary and background emotions. For instance, fear as a secondary emotion might feel more like anxiety, stress, or shyness, secondary emotions related to joy might be experienced as ecstasy, pleasure or amusement.

The experiment

Psychologists Antonio Damasio and Daniel Tranel, of the University of Iowa, researched frontal lobe patients’ reactions to stimuli that engage primary emotions. Frontal lobe patients and a control group, were hooked up to conductance-measuring electrodes and asked to watch a series of slides, some of which contained emotion-provoking content, most of which were neutral.

That where frontal-lobe patients sometimes know that they should feel a reaction, but the reaction is just not there to feel.

Viewing emotion-producing slides produced a measurable response in the control group of non-brain damaged people, but no response in frontal-lobe patients, even though they recalled the content of the slides without a problem. Although those patients remembered the slides, the damage to the frontal lobe rendered incapable of calling on the amygdala to set to work on the body and brain, therefore these patients had no reaction to refer to and interpret as emotion.

This missing link drastically affects frontal lobe patients’ ability to make decisions, because their secondary emotions are not engaged in evaluating the consequences of the numerous choices available when confronted with a decision, which ultimately means no decision is made until someone intervenes.

Intuition is the most-subtle result of secondary emotion and a power that frontal lobe patients will lack, but that depends on how bad their secondary emotion is affected by way of the nature and extent of their brain damage. In a similar situation, we may not even need to think about a decision but would make the intuitive connection. The next time we meet someone who feels similar, we instinctively know we are going to like this person.

Obviously, each case of brain damage plays out differently as to how badly impaired we are and one size doesn’t fit all. Over the years, I have learned to compensate through my gut and intuition. I have learned how to look for and pay attention to my intuition’s subtle messages.

It is those messages that I receive that allow me to function in my life and they help me make decisions. Sadly, I recognise I should have all sorts of feelings, but I am aware and recognise that I don’t feel the things I should.

With absolutely no recognition, it would also go on to explain why I missed my milestones growing up. Too many years late in the day, but I now know why I never made those connections.

Another part to the jigsaw has just been added.

4 Responses to “My frontal lobe damage”

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  1. Brad 13. Jun, 2017 at 10:42 am #

    I am pleased you’re now able to piece your life together, more than ever. Reading your blogs, this all makes sense.

    As you say another piece has been added to the jigsaw, but I wonder if the jigsaw will ever be completed. Each day is a day of discovery for you.

    • Ilana 13. Jun, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. Not knowing what I had let alone understanding my symptoms would always bring me to this place of self-discovery.

      It’s not always easy for others to understand how I present or what I have to deal with, but through my Cerebral Palsy blogs, I hope they now understand.

      Life has been hard for me because I didn’t know, but made all the harder, when others choose to put how I am and see me as difficult, when that’s further from the truth.

      I just present differently and that in itself isn’t the problem. It’s how others choose to see me through what they deal with and they make me the problem.

  2. Randy 13. Jun, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    Yes, this does make a lot of sense considering what I have read and heard about as far as frontal lobe damage issues are concerned.

    Way back when, they used to actually cause that damage intentionally with a frontal lobotomy that turned people into zombies. This is what I often wondered myself, whether I had frontal lobe damage, since I had a girl try to brain me when I was 4.

    I know they did a CAT scan, because the guy was an asshole, but never really knew what the results were, because my parents didn’t tell me anything. I only mention it, because I clearly remember having less impulse control than before. There were behaviors that began at that age which bothered me, but I didn’t dare to express them to anyone, seeing as I didn’t want to be sent away.

    How many people would believe that a 4 year old would understand that fact anyway? People have a bad habit of talking around children about stuff that they think we don’t get, but kids aren’t stupid. We grew up hearing the horror stories of what happened to our mother in a mental institution, so asking for help wasn’t considered to be a good thing.

    I think the only thing that really saved me, was that I turned out to be an empath and could read people’s emotions to at least be able to mirror what other people were feeling. Even at that age, I knew something was wrong since I didn’t feel things like most others do, which back then wasn’t a good thing.

    It was hard to say at that time whether it was from something in my brain or the fact that we were being put through hell, because of such a dysfunctional childhood. Needless to say, I’m thinking that’s why I relate so well to what you talk about.

    We both knew something was wrong,but what can you do when you grow up in a world where you really can’t talk about things? Most parents tend to notice when their children are acting out and try to address it, but I think our parents didn’t want to deal with our issues.

    Back when we were kids, if you were ‘different’ quite often you fell through the cracks and didn’t get the help you needed. Nowadays the kids don’t have such a problem getting the help they may need which is so fantastic.

    It would have been nice to get the help we needed when were kids, but it didn’t happen so we have to make the best of things now. Thanks for choosing to share your story with the world, as it has helped me out tremendously, to finally move on!

    • Ilana 13. Jun, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

      Thanks Randy. I’d like to thank you Randy, because without your support, I couldn’t do what I do with the site.

      How you got to where you are with how you think and feel is almost immaterial Randy. You know you’re struggles regardless of whether you have an official diagnosis.

      I have always known what I struggled and without a diagnosis made it a lot worse, because those issues were ignored, but we know what we know, we’re not here to convince others what we know. They should want to know and help.

      You can only do what you do Randy. Which is why I believe it’s important for us to be around like minded individuals who want to care about what we deal with.

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