OVERRIDE

Head Cases

Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath

Michael Paul Mason

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Michael Paul Mason is one of an elite group of neurological experts who appear in the wake of tragic accidents and illnesses and coordinate care that can last a lifetime. In Head Cases, Mason writes about his encounters with survivors of brain injuries as they struggle to map and make sense of the new worlds they inhabit. We meet a snowboarder whose life became permanently surreal after an errant jump; an "ultraviolent" child who has lost the brain's instinctive check on the impulse to strike out at others; a young man who cannot cry; and an Iraq war veteran whose odd maladies suggest that brain injury will be the war's most conspicuous legacy.

Underlying each of their stories is an exploration into the brain and its mysteries. When injured, the brain must figure out how to heal itself, reorganizing its physiology in order to do the job, and Mason shares a series of vivid glimpses into brain science, the last frontier of medicine. With personal stories as well as clearly written science, he shows the miracles of the brain's workings and the fragility of the brain and the sense of self, life, and order that resides there. Head Cases echoes both Oliver Sacks and Raymond Carver, and is at once illuminating and deeply affecting.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
The first thing I tell her is that I cannot help. Her son Jake is thirty-four, my age. His gray, bruise-flecked limbs are splayed out on a bed before me; his mouth is dry and agape. I know I cannot help him. I cannot file a lawsuit against the insurance company, I cannot conjure a way out of this dead-end nursing home, and I cannot sucker punch the aloof neurologist or throttle the ignorant psychiatrist. I hold no sway over the waiting list in my own hospital. I explain to her that I can do nothing at all, and she sighs. She is desperate to see Jake in a program where there is a
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for Head Cases

“Powerfully written . . . Head Cases sounds an alarm bell for our healthcare system.” —Oliver Sacks
 
“Mason deftly conveys the frustrations and inequities of traumatic brain injury . . . [He] performs a valuable service by calling attention to the plight of the brain injured . . . I had come to think of neurological dysfunction as an almost fanciful affliction, its victims like characters in a work of magical realism. Mason has provided a needed, and sobering, account of reality.” —Mary Roach, The New York Times Book Review
 
“One of my recent favorites . . . A sensitive and intelligent work.” —Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist
 
“Vivid, heartbreaking [and] movingly written.” —Irene Wanner, The Seattle Times
 
 

 
 

 
 

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Michael Paul Mason

  •   MICHAEL MASON (born 1971) is a brain injury case manager based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Michael Paul Mason ©Michael Cooper
    Michael Paul Mason
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

Head Cases

Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath

Michael Paul Mason

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BACK