Mar 262016
 

Another day, another six minutes doing my reading homework. I’m now doing two stints (well, one, most days in these last hellish crowdfunding days) of reading homework daily: one, reading paragraphs from an article assigned by my neurodoc and one “reading” the wordless graphic novel the psychology prof loaned me.

I just had a revelation about the latter. A new, unexpected benefit revealed itself.

One of the problems in holding conversations after brain injury is reading facial expressions. My ability has improved markedly, but I still have trouble.
 

From Cinema Panopticum by Thomas Ott

 Today, I began reading my ascribed 8 pages of the wordless graphic novel and immediately hit a bump: I had to spend some time studying the girl’s facial expression in reaction to The Hotel to figure out what she was showing and thinking. I had to study each eye and her mouth to feel like I’d “got it”: fear, surprise, laughter (nervous or fear laughter??). In another panel further on with the masked man, El Macho, I had to do the same again, although his expression was less complicated.

I’m thinking reading wordless graphic novels is a two-fer. I don’t know how rehab formally teaches people to relearn facial expressions because I was not considered to need it (yeah, OK), other than showing us photos of different expressions and having to identify them in the social group at CHIRS …

But I just realized: a wordless graphic novel helps us relearn to read a book and to read facial expressions in a natural way. Not in a you-need-rehab-your-brain-is-fucked way. The rehab way is socially isolating and reminds us of the slog of relearning we have to do. The natural way is more fun, lifts the ego, and makes us feel part of (trendy, youthful) society because other “normal” people read graphic novels too.

Update, 4:25pm: Another bonus of the wordless graphic novel is no associations with the past, no mourning, for I’ve never seen one before. No memories of what it used to be like; no grief because there’s no mourning a lost skill I never experienced. It doesn’t look like a comic book, so no reminding me of that loss too and thus again no grief. I suspect that would be true for most people with brain injury because the wordless graphic novel isn’t a commonly known genre. Yet.

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