Hemingway’s Brain Examined – TBI, CTE & Suicide
Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
~ Ernest Hemingway
Dr. Andrew Farah, is a forensic psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, and the author of a remarkable new book: Hemingway’s Brain. This interview, our first CBJ discussion, is at once transcendent, entertaining, and prescient regarding the brain awareness changes today taking place in both our society and our neuroscience community.
Dr. Farah is a native of Charleston SC and now serves as Chief of Psychiatry at the High Point Division of UNC Healthcare. In addition to this extraordinary piece on Hemingway, we’ve invited Andy back to CBJ for a serious discussion regarding the homocysteine theory of depression, and the use of reduced B vitamins for depression and neuroprotection, particularly the prevention of dementias. Yes, he’s a neuroscience expert as well. Stay tuned for our next visit.
His Interest In Hemingway’s Brain
It’s important to note that Dr. Farah’s remarks in this engaging and remarkably informative interview arise from his love of Hemingway’s works, his own passion for meaningful works as a writer, his professional experience as a psychiatric/forensic investigative reporter, and his abiding personal drive to face the new, discoverable realities of Hemingway’s brain function. If you have loved the troubled, insightful and metaphoric Hemingway, as we have over the years, you will most certainly find our discussion interesting. And you will absolutely love Andy’s book.
From the historically documented challenges of Hemingway’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, to alcohol abuse, to the challenges of global celebrity in this CBJ/114 episode, we discuss many interesting aspects of Hemingway’s life and mind. For decades his death and life challenges have remained so inexplicable because they occurred in times of ineffective brain diagnostic technology, only about 56 years ago. Then, even at the esteemed Mayo Clinic, the standard of care overlooked Hemingway’s brain challenges as biologically relevant, measurable and correctable.
Upon careful review, stigma and celebrity kept him from going to Menninger’s for his depression, as he could appear more medical for the purported reason of hypertension at the medical Mayo Clinic.
It’s reassuring to confirm how we’ve come a long way in our understandings of brain injury in just a few years.
Hemingway’s Life & Friends – Brain Injury Matters
If the hoar frost grip thy tent,
Thou wilt give thanks when night is spent.
You will also appreciate Dr. Farah’s comprehensive grasp of those memorable years in the ‘Hemingway Times’ – including interesting insights regarding his relationships with extraordinary Lost Generation writing companions including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and others. When you listen to Dr. Farah talk about Hem, it’s easy to think you’re with them all in Paris, sipping coffee with his crew of writing friends and expats over there at these extant haunts on the Left Bank.
First Observe The Face
Before you read further here, take a moment to look at Hem’s left side of his face just above the left eye. You don’t have to earn a degree in neuroscience to consider the meaning, the undeniable brain function importance of thoroughly assessing the significance of that scar.
Hem’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Also, we reviewed in detail his history and many medical findings that today contribute to current additional understandings of his suicide following multiple ECT treatments at the Mayo Clinic. This interview provides a valuable, in-depth resource for everyone from successful but lost celebrities, to emergent artists now in high school thinking about navigation markers to guide their lives ahead.
The standard of care for depression in those years dramatically differs from today. Today we know more about multiple causes of depression and, as Dr. Farah so articulately reports, the biology of brain deterioration for a complexity of biologically relevant reasons over time.
This Memorable Mix of History, Art, Metaphor, and Reality
Dr. Farah’s life lessons go beyond just memorable – to transcendent. Markdown this interview as unforgettable. – Thanks, Andy – …and thanks, Hem.
Dr. Farah Reports On Hemingway’s Brain: Art & Science – CBJ/114
Ed Note: These times below are now correctly linked for easy reference and listening – thanks for your patience! – cp.
- Bill Smallwood writing about his last 10 years sought me out to understand ECT
- “He was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken”
- Brain injury is very timely – his multiple brain injuries began in childhood
- When he presented at the Mayo Clinic in 1961 an article suggested that manifest problem was a kind of accident neurosis – psychological not biological
- Hemingway himself described dementia pugilistica with boxers
- ECT and psychoanalysis were the standard of care in those days
- Hemingway did not have the monopoly on mental illness in the Lost Generation
- Ezra Pound was another of the Lost Generation with serious mental challenges
- Notes on conflict and transcendence
- When asked if he saw a therapist he credited his typewriter
- Take the example of My Old Man as his effort to understand
- His complexity of metaphors, mythology, and parallels with Joyce
- The ability to cognitively convey is gone with dementia
- Dumbing down the human experience with reductionistic labels
- What would you have done with an opportunity to treat Hemingway
- His metaphoric legacy with suicide
- Stuck in the reality and illusion of celebrity
- Must listen to this poem on celebrity, illusion, and depersonalization
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To wrap yourself in the perceptions of others,
and then to enact the emptiness of those perceptions,
even a master illusionist is sometimes taken in by that reality,
and dragged offstage in the mouth of the tiger.
~ Jon Brehm – Help Is On The Way
Previous CBJ Interviews on Trauma, Stress, TBI, CTE and Brain Recovery
- CBJ Veterans Page – http://corebrainjournal.com/vets – Updated regularly
Dr. Farah’s Bonus Book Drawing – Closes June 24, ’17
Website, Book & References
- Hemingway’s Brain – Farah, 2017 – Global Amazon Link
- Correlation of Clinical Response With Homocysteine Reduction During Therapy With Reduced B Vitamins in Patients With MDD Who Are Positive for C677T or A1298C Polymorphism: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, Arnold W. Mech, MD, and Andrew Farah, MD, DFAPA; Guest Editor, Psychiatric Annals
- A Paradigm Shift in Depression Treatment – ’09 – Andrew Farah, MD
- The Idaho Hemingway – ’99 – Arnold & Smallwood – Global Amazon Link
- On a lighter note: From the Bearded Ones on Hemingway History
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Until next time, thanks for joining us here at CBJ again. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
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In closing, if you have any questions, drop a comment on any posting here at CBJ, and I’ll get back to you. This discerning show of world-class experts is here for you, your families, and your clients – to tighten our collective dialogue for more precise answers.
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Again, special thanks, Andy, for your fascinating yet utilitarian insights on Hemingway, ECT, CTE, TBI, art, and celebrity. We look forward with considerable anticipation to our next discussion here at CBJ on your homocysteine and depression insights.
Next CoreBrain Journal Guest
115 Dr. Bill Walsh – Now, more than one year from launch it’s interesting to note that this interview with Bill on Methylation and synaptic neurotransmitter balance is the most downloaded of all 114 Episodes. We think methylation bears repeating. Global curiosity for understanding these essential measures of synaptic molecular physiology today set new maps to address the complexity of treatment failure on multiple levels. In addition, our new CBJ Sponsor/Partner, Direct Health Access Laboratory is our respected laboratory resource to measure that collection of metabolic variables for direct clinical work. To change your mind, details matter.
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