Antonio Damasio, a Portuguese-American neuroscientist and author of the best-selling book Descartes’ Error, believes that a person’s personality depends on the state of his brain.
Damasio describes the famous accident in 1848 of Phineas Gage, an American construction worker who was pierced with an iron bar in his skull due to an explosion. The rod entered the left cheek, pierced the base of the skull and exited the top of the head. By a stroke of luck, Gage survived!
In addition, he did not even lose the ability to reason, in appearance he was a completely normal person, except that he had a terrible scar and stopped seeing with his left eye.
Before the accident, Gage had good social skills, he understood how to behave in order to adhere to social conventions and ethical rules. He knew how to plan, understood how to behave with the brigade and his superiors. In a strange way, the damage to his brain led to the loss of these skills, although his intelligence and speech were not affected at all. After the end of the acute phase of the traumatic brain injury, he became rude, constantly resorted to obscene swearing, showed disrespect for people, could not contain his irritation.
Observations of modern patients with some kind of brain damage made it possible to assert with confidence that even character traits can completely change if the brain is injured.
Be sure to read to understand how our brains work and why we shouldn’t underestimate the role of emotions in decision making.
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