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Losing one's sense of self: exploring the effects of frontal lobe brain damage

We define ourselves in different ways. Our outer self may be viewed in how we interact with the world around us, through our relationships with others and the roles we play in our personal lives and in our work. Our inner self is formed by our personality, our thoughts and emotions, views and beliefs.

Mind Map c Isla MillarAn event, injury or disease that affects the frontal lobes of the brain can result in cognitive impairments. These changes can happen suddenly and may be life changing. Those with frontal lobe injury often report that their personality and social interactions have changed as a result of the injury. These changes are not well understood medically.

The project aim                                                                                                       Losing one's sense of self: exploring the effects of frontal lobe brain damage explored how frontal lobe damage affects a person’s sense of self. Affected individuals find the symptoms very distressing and struggle to communicate their difficulties effectively. The approach was to use art as a research tool to help participants to communicate their experience with the possibility of using the acquired knowledge to drive the direction of the medical research. The project team were interested to learn how people that have been affected by frontal lobe injury feel the injury may have affected them; how it has changed the way that they relate to others or how others perceive them and how this might have changed their perception of themselves. The aim was to enable participants to communicate their individual experiences using artistic means. Throughout the study, the artists guided participants through a series of creative interviews and group activity sessions that allowed them to express their personal perspectives through the use of object and image making. 

The project team reviewed and interpreted these outcomes to determine whether this process could:

  • Help affected individuals to communicate their experiences more effectively
  • Enhance our own, and health practitioners’ understanding of the symptoms of frontal lobe injury that are most important to affected individuals               
  • Enhance the general public’s understanding of, and empathy for these individuals

Key themes were identified for dissemination to a wider audience. Using the materials created by the participants alongside pertinent scientific information from the (Finnerty, Bennett) lab, the artists (Isla, Iris) created an exhibition to be presented as part of the showcase planned by the Cultural Institute at King's College London.

perception is c Iris M

To participate                                                                                                     For individuals who have been affected by frontal lobe injury and are interested in participating in the study please download the following documents:

Project team                                                                                                           Dr Gerald Finnerty, Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience 

Ms Sophie Bennett , Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Isla Millar

Iris Musel 

Losing one’s sense of self: exploring the effects of frontal lobe brain damage is a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, Iris Musel of Limbic Productions and Isla Millar, brokered and supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s.

Arts, Health and Wellbeing Programme
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