Biographies & Memoirs

The Man with a Shattered World: The History of a Brain Wound

The Man with a Shattered World: The History of a Brain Wound

Russian psychologist A. R. Luria presents a compelling portrait of a man’s heroic struggle to regain his mental faculties. A soldier named Zasetsky, wounded in the head at the battle of Smolensk in 1943, suddenly found himself in a frightening world: he could recall his childhood but not his recent past; half his field of vision had been destroyed; he had great difficulty speaking, reading, and writing.

Much of the book consists of excerpts from Zasetsky’s own diaries. Laboriously, he records his memories in order to reestablish his past and to affirm his existence as an intelligent being. Luria’s comments and interpolations provide a valuable distillation of the theory and techniques that guided all of his research. His “digressions” are excellent brief introductions to the topic of brain structure and its relation to higher mental functions.

The Past

War

After Being Wounded

The Rehabilitation Hospital

Our First Meeting

Excerpt from Case History No. 3712

A Brief Summary of Brain Anatomy

First Steps in a Shattered World

His Vision

His Body

Space

Reading

A Student Again

Writing, the Turning Point

“The Story of a Terrible Brain Injury”

Why Did He Write?

“My World Has No Memories”

“My Memories Came Back from the Wrong End”

The Peculiar Features of His “Speech-Memory”

On Recollecting Words

Restricted to Undeciphered Images, Disembodied Ideas

Grammatical Constructions

“All My Knowledge Is Gone”

A Story That Has No Ending

“Were It Not for War ...”

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