Friday, August 3, 2007

Who are you?

My mother called and left a message on my voice mail.
My sister and I called her back.
Mother is home, but she isn't.
Where did my mother go?
Who is this woman who whines and complains and
begs and accuses and throws tantrums?
It is hard to find her voice amid all that.
I recognize her, sort of, but then, not.

A few years ago I had a conversation with my eldest daughter, Sarah,
about the power of hormones. Are our personalities so entwined with
hormones that hormones are part of our personality - does that make
sense? I denied it - I wasn't just hormones - but after reviewing some of
my behavior I had to conclude that my personality was definitely
hugely influenced by hormones. It was a scary thought. Is a person just a brain
swirling with chemicals? Are you your brain? When the hormone levels change,
or the brain tissue is damaged, where do you go? What's the real you?

Now I have to re-form my relationship with my mother - whose brain
is so damaged I can hardly recognize her. There is a person there, a
woman, and she sort of sounds like my mother, but not quite...
She has memories that are familiar, and likes and dislikes...but still...
she's a changeling

I remember when Sarah was a girl and I told her to wear her bike helmet,
because I loved her brain and wanted her to protect it. I had no idea, then, just how much I truly love her brain.

PS 10/07/07 I just came across this quote by Craig Matteson, in a review of the book This is your brain on music, by Daniel Levitin : father was taken by a brain tumor and I tried
to find material on the subject. I read "Phantoms
in the Brain" by V. S. Ramachandran and then
some articles by others in the field who claimed
the mind is simply an illusion created by brain
function, that our sense of consciousness and
choosing is simply false.

This has always seemed wrong to me, no matter
how much of our brain function occurs without our
"mind" or "consciousness" being involved in any way.