Doctor: 'The Vow' shows our brains are stranger than fiction
February 10th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Doctor: 'The Vow' shows our brains are stranger than fiction

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Between kids banging their heads in sports and soldiers banging their heads in battle, traumatic brain injury (TBI) gets a lot of press these days.

Sadly, TBI is very common, occurring in 1.7 million people annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition ranges in severity from mild concussions with no long-term consequences to severe brain damage leading to coma and/or death.

Now Hollywood is entering the national discussion about TBI with “The Vow," a movie inspired by real events that tells how a tragic case of TBI nearly destroyed the love between a married couple.

In the film, a recently married young couple is in a catastrophic car accident that leaves the wife with serious brain damage. She has completely forgotten the past five years of her life.

Because she met her husband more recently than that, he is now a complete stranger to her. He remains devoted, but she is confused: How could she have agreed to share her life, and her bed, with someone she has no memory of ever meeting? Still, the husband is determined to get his wife back, and they try to date again in hopes of reigniting the fire of love.

Classic example of Hollywood’s preposterous take on life, right? Never could have happened... except that it sort of did. In fact, many basic facts of the movie are based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. And this highlights a key point about medicine.

If I’ve learned anything in my several decades as a doctor it is that the human brain and body are stranger than fiction. If you can imagine it, it’s probably happened, and a lot of things you’d never imagine have happened, too.

In fact, memory loss is quite common following a traumatic brain injury. It typically takes one of two forms.

Anterograde memory loss is the more common of the two. This type of memory loss is characterized by an inability to form new memories for a period of time after the injury.

Retrograde memory loss is less common. When this occurs, a patient becomes unable to access memories for things that have occurred prior to the head trauma. Usually this period of “lost time” is brief. But in unusual cases people can lose a year or more of memories, which accounts for the Carpenters' story.

Where "The Vow" wanders from reality is in downplaying the fact that any episode of TBI bad enough to cause severe amnesia is likely to do a lot of other bad things to a person, too. As a People.com article from 15 years ago makes clear, re-stoking the Carpenters' lost romance had at least as much to do with coping with changes in Krickett's personality as it did with her lost memories.

Like most people with significant brain trauma, she wasn’t the same person after the accident that she was before, and the changes weren’t all for the good.

The most famous case in history of TBI changing a person’s character occurred in 1848 when an extremely organized, loyal, perfectionist and hard working railroad crew foreman named Phinneas Gage had much of the front part of his brain blown off by an iron tamping bar that shot straight through his head in an unfortunate accident. Remarkably Gage never lost consciousness despite people being able to see daylight through his head as they carried him to a nearby hotel.

Gage made a remarkable recovery, but over time his acquaintances begin to notice strange things. Gage became lazy, slothful, irritable, impulsive and sloppy. He drank and spent his money on prostitutes. He lost his job and wandered down into the lower reaches of society, surviving on the good will of those who knew his plight.

So in this regard, "The Vow" doesn't do justice to the terrible truth of TBI - that it frequently robs people of who they were, not just in memories, but in thoughts, feelings and behavior.

And yet, sometimes memory loss itself can raise issues of profound philosophical importance. Years ago I had a patient with a most remarkable story, full of theological implications. Let’s call him Carlos.

He came from a small town in Arizona in the years when gangs were first making their entry onto the American scene. As a teen he fell in with one of these early gangs, became violent and engaged in petty crimes. Then, at age 18, he had a powerful religious conversion and became a born-again Christian. He replaced his switch-blade with a Bible and his life of crime with enrollment in the local junior college.

One hot summer’s day, while at a picnic with his church group, he dove off a bridge into shallow water and crashed his head into the mud at the bottom of the river. Friends fished him out and rushed him to the nearest hospital where he remained unconscious for the better part of a day.

When he came around he appeared remarkably normal, except for one striking fact. Like the heroine in "The Vow," or Krickitt Carpenter in real life, he had a powerful case of retrograde amnesia stretching back over a year and a half that left him with a very patchy sense of what had happened to him during this period.

What he especially couldn’t remember was his powerful conversion experience. He was confused by how he knew so much about the Bible, and despite persistent efforts by his former parishioners, he never again “caught fire for the Lord”, as he put it. But neither did he return to his life of crime. He continued in junior college and grew up to be an electrician, a married man and eventually a city council member in his small community. Yet his wife never had any luck getting him to go back to church, other than Christmas and Easter.

What this story highlights is that more than any other injuries, those to the brain raise questions most of us would rather ignore. Did my patient lose his salvation? Did the accident change his soul? How can there be a soul if it can be so radically changed by a bump on the head?

No one has answers to these questions. But if there is any slight recompense to the frequently catastrophic consequences of a TBI, it is that the condition reminds us how precious our properly functioning brains really are.

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Chris

    This article should have been written in 2004 with Adam Sandler's "50 First Dates."

    February 10, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeepers

      I love that movie. It's silly and goofy up until the very end, which makes me cry EVERY time I see it. It's profound.

      February 10, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • DAVE


      February 10, 2012 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
  2. QS

    "What this story highlights is that more than any other injuries, those to the brain raise questions most of us would rather ignore. Did my patient lose his salvation? Did the accident change his soul? How can there be a soul if it can be so radically changed by a bump on the head?"

    I agree it doesn't necessarily "answer" these questions, but it does, at the very least, lend more credence to the idea that the so-called "life changing experience" so many people claim they've had in regard to religion/god is nothing more than something in their own head.

    February 10, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • God

      Finally!! Thank you QS..... People will not find me in their heads but only after they escape the body...And yes I promise I will explain things....

      February 11, 2012 at 02:07 | Report abuse |
    • Galaxy101

      And a persons gotta wonder... why would "most of us" rather ignore these questions about the brain ? D'ya suppose it's possible the most of us are in denial 😉

      February 11, 2012 at 03:25 | Report abuse |
    • cosmicsnoop

      WhaSup God! Love you man!

      February 11, 2012 at 22:15 | Report abuse |
    • Honestly

      god or delta or Michelle is it? Do you do anything fruitful in life besides blogging, and being an idiot?

      February 12, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • Honestly

      God, it seems that you were knocked out of Carlos head! He didnt hit his body! And you by the way are not god. No matter how much you convince yourself that you are. You're just another nut!

      February 12, 2012 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
    • unhanon

      Well QS, I gotta say, isn't *everything* "just something in your head"? Your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), your morals, your values, who you love, your relationships, the beer you drink and the movies you watch.... They are all simply "in our head" as our brain is what we use to process and store *all* information about both the inside and the outside world.
      The problem is that the article closes in a way that allows consciousness to be confused with the soul. We are learning a fair amount about consciousness these days. However our "knowledge" about the soul has not advanced at all over the past millennium. Don't confuse the two!

      February 13, 2012 at 09:12 | Report abuse |
    • TeenyT

      I didn't hit my head to lose jeebus, I just finally actually read the bible to figure out that it's a fairy tale...

      February 13, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
    • yocko pondowski

      The soul or psyche changes throughout life. Your personality is not the same now as it may have been in eight grade (maybe it is.) The Zoe or spirit does not change, you are the same being, since you can remember eight grade (maybe you can.) So no excuses permitted for getting God out of the picture on this one!

      February 13, 2012 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
  3. PS

    Many elderly dementia patients exhibit similar changes to their brain functions all the time. It definitely sounds strange when young people lose their abilities. But the phenomenon is not so strange to those dealing with dementia patients who can remember everything from decades ago, but nothing from yesterday or a week ago! My seventy five year old father can do trigonometry, but cannot recognize his own grandchildren sometimes!

    February 10, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. toadears

    I had the one that starts with an A after my two concussions. ...................... What? Who are you? How did I get here? I don't know any of you!

    February 10, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Stephanie towers

    I can't wait to see the movie. I have brain tumors that have caused my memory loss but now i know i'm not alone

    February 10, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. squid

    I knew a girl that suffered severe head trauma in a car accident. I later read about Phinneas Gage and found it interesting to see that she also displayed many of the same consequences as he did. Her injury wasn't as traumatic, and she went on to have a perfectly 'normal' life. After her wreck everybody that knew her thought she would be a vegetable for the rest of her life, but within the first week it became apparent that she was going to be able to recover. Her friends and family were nervous around her because they had no idea what to expect, some of them treated her as if she should be fully rehabilitated within the first month, and some of them treated her like she was always going to have brain damage – they acted like they were afraid of her, or pitied her because she was going to end up retarded. I was very close to her at this time, we are still good friends. It was a shame that those around her were not aware of what frontal lobe damage can do, and that they weren't able to help her in her recovery. She was especially hurt by the people that treated her like she was going to somehow be retarded for the rest of her life and she put a lot of distance between herself and those people from her past.
    Aside from the emotional pain of those that she had always known viewing her so differently and just waiting around to see what type of person she was going to change into, the worst symptom she had was a loss of understanding her moral code. She had always known what she wanted out of life, but after her wreck; I always thought in was in part from the people around her treating her the way that she did, she went away from her original path and started using drugs (also in part because she had become addicted to pain killers after her accident) and behaving in a somewhat disrespectful way. She didn't care if she cussed, no matter what company she was in, she started drinking heavily. The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. For her, it seemed to target on her impulse control, judgement, and social / sexual behavior. It could have been her age too, she was only 18 at the time... I think that aided in her recovery more than it hurt though. She was still totally the same person, but her judgement and behavior had taken a slide. Instead of going straight to college she spent four years working a minimum wage job and partying, but by the time she was 22 she seemed to snap out of it, quit using drugs and drinking, went to college and settled down. I'm pretty sure she was suffering from PTSD as well, I often had thought the doctors should have provided her with more counseling and information to help her understand what she was going through and why it was happening to her. In many ways having to deal with her loss of close emotional relationships with former loved ones and dealing with her recovery opened her up to learning more philosophical wisdom – she has become one of the most intelligent, considerate people that I've ever known. It is amazing how resilient the human brain and body can be, and it fascinates me how injuries like this can have so many various affects on different people.

    February 10, 2012 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blah blah blah!

      OMG! the next time you're laying in bed, unable to go to sleep, you should tell yourself that little (really Long), boring story.
      You just kept rambling On and on, and the only thing I got out of it is, a car wreck, head injury, she changed, but was the same, and now she's successful!

      February 12, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • Every 21 Seconds

      Thanks Squid for the info, My brother *(he was walking)was hit by a teen that was texting and driving and he was in a coma 40 days. It really helps families to know what to expect after a TBI. I did read about TBIs and they happens every 21 seconds and we have a lot of military coming home with TBI's. The behavior and judement is very hard for care takers to understand! For all those that judge one day you or someone you know with have a brain disfunction or a TBI.

      February 13, 2012 at 02:59 | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      @ blah blah blah: Put a sock in it, yourself. Troll elsewhere.

      Thanks for your reply. My sister was in two really bad car accidents in her early 20s – no alcohol involved, not the driver. ACCIDENTS. In both, her neck was broken (BROKEN, not "whiplash"). In one, the driver was instantly killed. (She was trapped next to her dead friend for hours before they could get her out.)

      She was always a nut with control problems, but in the past 15-20 years she's gone way weird – she's a hoarder.

      Thanks very much for your discussion about what you observed. I'd never given much thought to my sister's triggers because she was not a very likeable cuss, but there are a lot of parallels, nevertheless, between what you observed and what I have.

      I don't have a lot of time to craft a more lucid response – suffice to say, "thank you – your observations helped and may inform the way I interact with my sister from now on."

      February 13, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • Pixie

      @"Blah blah blah" - the next time *you're* " laying in bed, unable to go to sleep" [sic], you might reflect on the rules of when to use "lie" and when to use "lay"! I assume you've finished elementary school, since you used the ubiquitous "OMG", so you should know the difference!
      And, secondly, you should be ashamed of denigrating *anyone's* experience with TBI! (Just sayin'...) It is a tough thing for all involved, unimaginable until one encounters it; but, apparently, here's what ("the only thing," as you say) you would get out of *my* story: a car wreck (6x midafternoon rollover at 70 mph– wasn't speeding, just driving home from a dentist appointment), severe head injury, coma, hand reattached, metal plates in spine and arm, "she changed" [quoting you], stayed in the hospital a year, was a college professor before, is living on Social Security Disability Insurance since (eligibility determined by degree of disability and credits *earned* during my working life).
      Dear "Blah blah blah," congratulations on having a charmed life; I hope, for your sake, it continues thus, but - take it from me– everything can change in an instant!
      Sorry for "rambling On and on" [sic], if that was too long for you to read! Sometimes hearing about life experiences (someone else's, or even recounting your own) is worth more than can be absorbed in a 20-second attention span.

      March 27, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    Man, that sounds like such a chick-flick. More robots less amnesia!

    February 10, 2012 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. PandaImam

    Religion has an explanation for anything and everything. I'll try one here. The Lord wants to test this man's faith. So he made him lose it to see if he'll find it again. Voila.

    February 10, 2012 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Posted with sardonic grin I assume! lol

      February 10, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      hmmmmmmm....and science

      February 12, 2012 at 20:59 | Report abuse |
  9. johnkeating

    This is just a guess, but I don't think scientists and doctors are going to find the mind [and its memories] strictly in the brain. They have to study more about electromagnetic phenomena (like how audio recordings are sometimes stored on magnetic cassette tape) - I think our mind and memories are in the electro-magnetic field [penetrating and] surrounding the body. The brain is just an intermediary between the electromagnetic body and the external physical environment.

    February 10, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hugo

      How about YOU do that instead of they? Go get a PhD in a relevant field and then apply for a grant.

      February 12, 2012 at 00:27 | Report abuse |
    • johnkeating

      No. Even if I were to get a PhD, I'd have to fund the research on my own. The government and mainstream science is too entrenched in the false assumption of materialism as basis for all of reality, to expect support from them for such research. Remember, the late Robert Monroe funded all his own studies on out-of-body experiences and he was his own chief test subject...

      February 12, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Honestly

      Scientist make false assumption of materialism? if something has materialized then it's not an assumption? Have you any idea what you are talking about? What assumption do you make?

      February 12, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
    • Kabbalah

      While I am no where near an expert on anything but the comments here make me think of kabbalah.True Kabbalah(which has nothing to do with red string) says that our complete nature is to receive. We are just receivers attuned to receive thru our five senses. There are forces that our senses are not tuned to receive, but none the less still influence us. It is not that we can't learn to receive them. Kabbalah teaches who we truly are and how to attune to those forces and influence them for the benefit of humanity. I found the following to be very helpuful regarding this, http://www.perceivingreality.com/

      February 13, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse |


    February 11, 2012 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      You mean contacting and reprogramming the subconscious? If so, you're talking about changing one's personality. That's quite a feat. The vast majority of us have very limited or hardly any control over our involuntary reactions and bad habits. I've heard that if you put enough conscious attention on a part of your body [or mind], you gain more and more control and awareness over it, but this remains more theory than reality for me at present.

      February 11, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
    • johnkeating

      Alfred Bielek says there are actually [12 or 15] levels of the subconscious. One way to access the subconscious to somehow 'freeze' the state of your mind right at the point of orgasm. Another way possibly, is to apply enough pain to the body/mind just before death occurs (trauma-based mind control). The CIA now has chemical and/or electromagnetic methods of accomplishing mind control better. It's like the effect of hypnosis only a lot stronger because there's physical/mental pain involved. Agencies like the CIA have secretly done experiments and know how to 'erase' memories as well as enhance a person's abilities tremendously such as giving a person photographic memory abilities - through torture/mind control techniques they have developed.

      February 11, 2012 at 23:51 | Report abuse |
  11. A Reasoner

    There's no need to worry about the electromagnetic phenomena. That's why god made tinfoil hats.

    February 11, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      Tinfoil hats? lol Sounds like a sort of origami. lol

      February 11, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
    • johnkeating

      Scientist Patrick Flanagan invented this interesting device called a 'neurophone'. You place the electrodes anywhere on your body and you can 'hear' any [electric] audio signals pumped into it. It doesn't matter where you place the electrodes on your body. It's as if the body is one big giant receiving antenna. The idea that hearing can be a non-localized function (not exclusive to the ears) is fascinating. Or maybe it's because it's communicating directly with the electromagnetic part of your being... bypassing any need for a brain?

      February 11, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
    • Honestly

      John, maybe you should explain that to those who are def! Im sure if there was a way to hear without your ears, they would be very interested. And be sure to tell them that Peter Pan can take them to "never never land", as those in the final years of their lives might want to buy a ticket.

      February 12, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • David B.

      Why do people say "tinfoil" when there is no such thing anymore? There's hasn't been for decades. It is called aluminum foil. Reminds me of my dad who called a refrigerator an "icebox." Or people who use "your" when they actually mean "you're." And don't get me started on the usage of "their," "there" and "they're."

      February 12, 2012 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  12. TAK

    Sounds like Carlos' bump on his head managed to knock some sense into him.

    "Did my patient lose his salvation? Did the accident change his soul? How can there be a soul if it can be so radically changed by a bump on the head?"

    Did I read that right? A medical doctor asking these kinds of questions? I hope he's not in my network.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. catmomof17

    Kind of makes you want to don a hard hat when you leave the house. Pretty scary when you realize how tenuous your safety can be, and how quickly your life can change forever.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Thinking

    I like gods comment lets think for a minute sick is sick and there is alwayr room for healiing i took care of a man with tbi who was declared brain dead at the time of his accident years latter he could talk remember still had his sense of humor and was starting to get some of his motor skills back and his soul was intact just as anyones would be a soul isnt just in the brain its you all over our body is just its house

    February 11, 2012 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. johnkeating

    Alfred Bielek claims that the 'Akashic Records' - a detailed recording of every individual life and event that happened in the entirety of Earth's history, is recorded in the Van Allen belts.

    February 11, 2012 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. johnkeating

    Not too many of us have truly explored the limits of pain or pleasure and what such things do to our minds and bodies. Addiction has been studied for some time, but the effect of extreme torture/deprivation is something that agencies like the CIA study secretly, because normally it would be illegal and considered unethical to conduct such studies. But you can bet they've studied the effect of extreme pain and deprivation on people, and not just on enemy combatants or terrorists. Remember how Dr. Banner in the TV series 'The Incredible Hulk' was looking for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that everybody has? Well the CIA has done it, except not through radiation, but by subjecting the human body/mind to the extremes of pain and pleasure in combination with extreme training and doctrination.

    February 11, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jeff

    "No one has answers to these questions."

    Whenever I read that in an article – in this one it is the first sentence of the last paragraph – it seems tossed in for good measure. Almost equivalent to touching wood, just to be sure. Besides the condition of being gratuitous, it is unverifiable and therefore has no place in a paper that leans toward science for support to make a point. Even if there are those who do have answers to these questions, the author clearly doesn't and is making a plea to the readership to excuse the author for posing questions that the author can't answer. It isn't necessary and it weakens the paper.

    If the point is to try to get a little closer to the core of the debate about the soul and whether or not it exists, and if so who among us has one, then it is better made, perhaps, by sticking to the facts at our disposal. And so far none of those facts support the ancient notion of a soul, human or otherwise. That said, there is some evidence that there are energies passing through us which can extend beyond the physical body, but it is a leap of faith to associate some bio-electromagnetic activity with the ancient notion of a soul. For those interested in the debate, they might wish to think about and discuss the issue of exactly where the soul and the body are connected. If they are merely parallel events superimposed one on the other, then the affairs of one can be of no consequence to the other, and therefore no point in discussing any relationship. If they are more than parallel events but are connected somehow, then the question is, what is the nature of that connection and how can it be investigated impartially?

    February 12, 2012 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      Wilhelm Reich's discovery of 'orgone energy' (the equivalent of Chinese concept of 'chi' and Indian 'prana' [or maybe 'kundalini']) might be a good starting point... as well as any Chinese/Indian writings on the subject. Reich approached the subject from a more scientific and western viewpoint, so I think prefer his perspective. This is the closest thing to the 'Force' in the movie series 'Star War's.

      February 12, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
  18. Navin Johnson

    Regarding Henry

    February 12, 2012 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Every 21 Seconds

      Great Movie!

      February 13, 2012 at 03:01 | Report abuse |
  19. b

    Omega 3 and nootropics, they restore it.

    February 12, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. kiteflyer63

    I have had a TBI, recovered with more abilities than before my accident. My recovery was in spite of what the doctors were trying to get me to do. Namely, take prescription drugs! This did not set well with me for some reason as I was going by my "intuition" as to what "felt" right for my body. As I reasoned that prescription drugs may mask the pain I was in, it would also produce more chemicals in my brain and body. Needless to say the doctors were not happy about my perceived non-cooperation.
    I was doing what was right for my body, as I had an understanding they did not. I was rated at 40% loss of cognitive ability after my accident which to some would seem minor. You see I was at a stoplight and hit from behind by another car going approx 30 mph.
    It took 3 years of many many herbs and untold amounts of filtered water (which I still do) to get a quality recovery. Fast forward to today (16 years later) and all seems normal except my personality has completely changed, I'm happier, more positive than anyone I know, and spiritually it touch with the "Source". I live my light by being a light of the change I want to be.

    February 12, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Dizzyd

    I think that one guy is still saved. It was caused by an accident. God would understand.

    February 12, 2012 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. glioblastomarunner

    I don't blame anyone in this sort of situation for leaving or divorcing.
    Vows be damned.
    I didn't use to think this way..I sure do now.
    When they say that spouses ,friends, loved ones are not the same person after PROFOUND brain trauma, it's the truth...
    They are more like zombies, the kind you see in the movies..
    the worst thing is that if you really had adored that victimized loved one in the previous life, it's hard to leave. You just can't go. You stay..like Estragon and Vladimir "Waiting for Godot"
    You wait, and night just falls. Everything falls
    And nuthin's gonna change it.

    February 12, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Thinking

    number 28 interesting thought about the soul and body being parralel have you ever looked into a mirror and looked into your soul therefore looking into you not your body try it you may find your answer by the way god is the greatest scientist ever and it all boils down to faith which cannot be explained it is only known how you aquhre it

    February 12, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Thinking

    That last phrase should be aquire it

    February 12, 2012 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dan

    To Dave who posted on the 10th about you mother sitting on her brains..my dad sat on his too, they would have made a nice couple.

    February 13, 2012 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. x5431n

    things that make you go hmmmmmm....

    February 13, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Drowlord

    A soul can't be a very important component if the physical brain demonstrably determines our feelings, memories, spirituality, morality, and personality. Particularly if you're of the "animals don't have souls" ilk, who don't believe that life has anything directly and specifically to do with a soul. When you take what we are and subtract everything we can account for, what exactly is left?

    February 13, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. octinomos

    the point of religion is to be beyond proof, so as to require faith. so if you ever could prove it, then religion would cease to exist.

    February 13, 2012 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jane

    I don't believe for a minute he lost his salvation. Jesus said no one can pluck a believer out of HIs hand. This man had a terrible trauma to his brain, I'm sure God understands. One more thing doctor, the soul cannot be changed by a bump on the head, anymore than you can change a rock into a green beans. God is in total control of this man's soul and I'm sure He's more than capable to taking full care of it.

    February 13, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jim

    Great comments by everyone. Very entertaining! Some are really very funny and clever.

    February 13, 2012 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Canadian Jack

    The good physician does not think out of the box. The brain may very well be the way the soul world communicates with this world.The soul acts as a puppeteer. When the brain is damaged it is as though some of the puppet's strings were cut. Without sufficient spiritual strings the human cannot move a limb or cannot talk or recall. I have named this spiritual sting theory.

    February 14, 2012 at 07:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I really enjoy looking at on this website, it has got superb content. "And all the winds go sighing, For sweet things dying." by Christina Georgina Rossetti.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.