Responding to Brain damage

Bert Keizer in the Threepenny Review:

I described Mr. C. [a severe aphasic] as “mindless,” which sounds like a disqualification. I did not intend it that way. What bothers me about him is his equanimity, his incomprehensible compliance, which strikes me as mindless because, if mindful, he would be blazing with rage and despair at the horror of the situation he has landed in. He lacks that cast of mind, and this lack implies that he does not fully experience this, the way a blind dog may not know it is blind.I mean to say that I don’t regard C. as a great stoic who manfully shoulders his misery. I don’t know exactly what his burden is, but he carries it lightly.

“You can’t help wondering just what’s going through his head,” muses his son while he gently strokes his father’s face. “Maybe not much, eh, Dad?”

Relatives rarely if ever reach this conclusion when dealing with brain-damaged loved ones.