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Title: The neural event : plasticity through practice
Author: Smith, Stacey Louisa
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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A brain injury has the potential to unravel everything you once knew. This frightening uncertainty is what philosopher Catherine Malabou (2012) calls the 'destructive accident' where a trauma has the capacity to change our lives forever. When this occurs, care is paramount. But how do we care for our brains? Who knows best? This thesis is a reflection of ethnographical observations of a neuroimaging clinical trial and two neurorehabilitation centres aimed at providing targeted rehabilitation after a traumatic or acquired brain injury. Though much work has been done in the social sciences on the rise of the neurosciences and its potential implications for 'hope and hype' (see Rose 2007, Beaulieu, 2004, Slaby, 2012, Rose and Abi-Rached, 2013) I question what a theory of plasticity (Malabou, 2008) can bring to the debates around material agency, embodiment and hope after a trauma; can patients still learn, adapt or make meaning of the world when they are severely cognitively impaired? I will show that for many of the patients in this research, plasticity was a key contributor in how they viewed themselves and their attitude to recovery which shaped their practices in diverse ways. By taking into account moments of surprise, affect and even love as well as larger governance practices, I question how we might formulate more ethical care practices for brain-injured patients. More broadly, I show' how hope and human agency are deeply and immediately embedded in real medical and healthcare practices so I argue a cautionary stance against the easy assumptions of loss which frequently mark critical theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available