Clues about what we are, from a girl with half a brain

One of the major themes of my recent posts has been “What is consciousness?” or “Are we just a brain inside a body, or does our consciousness transcend the physical?” Well, it doesn’t get much plainer than lopping off fifty percent of a person’s brain and discovering that the whole person is still there.

There was an incredible documentary on telly last night about a little girl called Cameron Mott. When only three years old, she started displaying the symptoms of Rasmussen’s Encephalitis, the only cure for which is a hemispherectomy, the removal or disconnection of one entire half of the brain. After the operation, Cameron suffered (as predicted) paralysis along one side of her body, but she was young enough that, after a few days, she was already training the remaining side of her brain to take over, and she regained much of the use of her immobilised limbs.

The most incredible thing to me, and the thing which was beyond the theme of the documentary, was that that Cameron came out of the operation mentally and emotionally intact. She was still the same little girl. Surely this begs the question: if we can lose half of our brain, and still be “all there,” what on earth are we? I think this points very strongly to the idea that the brain is not the person; that consciousness (the core of ourselves), including our self-awareness and possibly our memories, lies somewhere beyond physical matter; that the brain is simply a machine that serves the consciousness and helps us interact with and function in this five-sense reality.

And then there’s my favourite question in all this: If consciousness is non-physical, what happens to it when the body dies? Does it necessarily die, too? Why should it, when it isn’t physical matter?

If I can make any valid point, it’s this: A view of reality that rests strictly on scientific principles involving the denial of anything beyond the physical, just because it is untestable, strikes me as wholely inadequate. When you’ve got scientists running around insisting there is no soul and that we’re just a brain, and then I’m seeing with my own eyes that somebody can lose half of their brain and still be fully compus mentus, well, excuse me for believing in a “soul.”

The full documentary Living with Half a Brain can be watched online via this YouTube playlist.

2 thoughts on “Clues about what we are, from a girl with half a brain

  1. Heidi

    Before I begin, I would like to tell you that as I am moving house very shortly my Internet may be turned off any moment (as is was today, but that’s a long story irrelevant to this), anyway my point is I may not be able to reply for quite some time. I also may be able to 🙂

    My assumption about the story of the little girl is not far from what I already think/ we can do anything our minds are open to. A child has no thought on religion (unless forced to), and no thoughts on science, just thoughts on living and ‘being’. I believe religion and science are holding us back from what we are truly able to do. Once, when we started to rely on science as the new ‘ eye opener’ it was the most refreshing thing to believe in. Now, this seems to also be restricted, we suddenly have rules that we have to abide by, and theories we have to prove… We have to prove and verify everything.

    Now I think most people (well, most people I know), look at life differently, we are able to believe in different ways of life and look at how the mind/conscience really does work. We are not disregarding science, it’s a revolution, and it’s amazing what we can realise and find out, but, I don’t personally think you have to listen to lined text to live life; you have to see, feel, think and know that you are able to do anything. On the flip-side of science, our minds are not even explainable to them, why should they say what is wrong or right? We have undiscovered area’s in our brains that we need to investigate and if not, we need to open our minds to the possibility that those undiscovered areas are phenomenon that ‘scientists’ can’t put into words, and they should be ‘open to the public’, open to discussions, should also be able to be accepted as maybe a sixth or seventh sense? (Maybe going too far)………….

    Point being, the mind is an endless phenomenon of possibilities that scientist can’t even decipher. Who says what is possible and what isn’t?

    Myself, personally, I think anything I do, that I believe in, will and can happen, minus the hang ups, I’m doing pretty o.k. I think anyone else can do so too, I believe it’s a ‘frame of mind’ rather than science or religion.

    Sorry, if I have offended anyone, but, you know what? I don’t really care; this is what the Internet is for. Is it not?  (o.k. I do care, hang-ups not aside!) – (fed up of editing, going to post now)

  2. Don’t worry about causing offence. Just express yourself. Much of what you said above is exactly how I feel. One of the most liberating things for me was to realise the limits of science.

    The truth is the truth with or without the proof. The world was always round; it didn’t become round only after we found the means to prove it.

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