Thinking about Thinking

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Finding Continuity in US Military Veterans’ Embodied Minds

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Author: Anna Zogas 1
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Washington zogas@uw.edu
Restricted access

Abstract

This article examines American military veterans’ metacognition – their ‘thinking about thinking’. After sustaining mild traumatic brain injuries (mild TBI), some veterans experience impaired memory, poor concentration and other cognitive problems that surface when they begin attending colleges and trade schools. In response, clinicians at a specialized TBI clinic at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centre created a programme that encourages veterans to become reflexive about their cognition. Symptoms that veterans experience as cognitive impairments are reframed by clinicians as conflicts between their military-minded bodies and their new civilian environments. We have seen the growing influence of the neuro-disciplines on the government of populations, but newly materialist understandings of the mind also shift the boundaries of what constitutes ‘the body’, suggesting new terrains for the disciplinary techniques of institutions. Analysing veterans’ experiences of their injuries and clinicians’ efforts to help them reveals cognition as a site of discipline.

Contributor Notes

Anna Zogas is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. She has recently published ‘US Military Veterans’ Difficult Transitions Back to Civilian Life and the VA’s Response’, which is part of The Costs of War Project.

  • Castro, C. A., S. Kintzle and A. Hassan. 2014. ‘The State of the American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study’. cir.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/USC010_CIRLAVetReport_FPpgs.pdf.

    • Export Citation
  • Cifu, D. X. and C. Blake. 2011. Overcoming Post-Deployment Syndrome: A Six Step Mission to Health. New York: DemosHealth.

  • Cifu, D. X., S. I. Cohen, H. I. Lew, M. Jaffee and B. Sigford. 2010. ‘The History and Evolution of Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Military Service Members and Veterans’. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 89 (8): 688694. doi:10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181e722ad.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Finley, E. P. 2011. Fields of Combat: Understanding PTSD among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Foucault, M. [1977] 1995. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books.

  • Foucault, M. 2007. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977–1978, trans. Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Garland-Thomson, R. 2011. ‘Misfits: A Feminist Materialist Disability Concept’. Hypatia 26 (3): 591609. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01206.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gerber, D. A. 2000. ‘Introduction: Finding Disabled Veterans in History’. In D. A. Gerber (ed.), Disabled Veterans in History, 1st edition. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 151.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hahn, H. 1988. ‘The Politics of Physical Differences: Disability and Discrimination’. Journal of Social Issues 44 (1): 3947. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1988.tb02047.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoge, C. 2010. Once a Warrior – Always a Warrior: Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press.

  • Hoge, C. W., D. McGurk, J. L. Thomas, A. L. Cox, C. C. Engel and C. A. Castro. 2008. ‘Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in US Soldiers Returning from Iraq’. The New England Journal of Medicine 358 (5): 453463. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa072972.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kintzle, S., J. M. Rasheed and C. A. Castro. 2016. ‘The State of the American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study’. http://cir.usc.edu/research/research-projects/chicagoland-veterans-study.

    • Export Citation
  • Linton, S. 1998. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: New York University Press.

  • MacLeish, K. T. 2012. ‘Armor and Anesthesia: Exposure, Feeling, and the Soldier’s Body’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26 (1): 4968. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1387.2011.01196.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messinger, S. D. 2010a. ‘Getting Past the Accident: Explosive Devices, Limb Loss, and Refashioning a Life in a Military Medical Center’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 24 (3): 281303. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1387.2010.01105.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messinger, S. D. 2010b. ‘Rehabilitating Time: Multiple Temporalities among Military Clinicians and Patients’. Medical Anthropology 29 (2): 150169. doi:10.1080/01459741003715383.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messinger, S. D. 2013. ‘Vigilance and Attention among US Service Members and Veterans after Combat’. Anthropology of Consciousness 24 (2): 191207. doi:10.1111/anoc.12013.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messinger, S. D. 2014. ‘Wounded Warriors: The State, Health Care and Citizenship’. Paper presented at the 113th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morrison, D. R. and M. J. Casper. 2012. ‘Intersections of Disability Studies and Critical Trauma Studies: A Provocation’. Disability Studies Quarterly 32 (2): unpaginated. doi:10.18061/dsq.v32i2.3189.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mundey, L. 2015. ‘The Combatants’ Experiences’. In B. Bailey and R. H. Immerman (eds), Understanding the US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New York: New York University Press, 175193.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pitts-Taylor, V. 2016. The Brain’s Body: Neuroscience and Corporeal Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Rose, N. 2003. ‘Neurochemical Selves’. Society November/December: 4659.

  • Rose, N. and J. M. Abi-Rached. 2013. Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sayer, N. 2012. ‘Traumatic Brain Injury and Its Neuropsychiatric Sequelae in War Veterans’. Annual Review of Medicine 63: 405419. doi:10.1146/annurev-med-061610-154046.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sayer, N. A., S. Noorbaloochi, P. Frazier, K. Carlson, A. Gravely and M. Murdoch. 2010. ‘Reintegration Problems and Treatment Interests among Iraq and Afghanistan Combat Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care’. Psychiatric Services 61: 589597. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.61.6.589.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shakespeare, T. 2006. Disability Rights and Wrongs. New York: Routledge.

  • Shay, J. 2014. ‘Moral Injury’. Psychoanalytic Psychology 31 (2): 182191. doi:10.1037/a0036090.

  • Siebers, T. 2008. Disability Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

  • Sørensen, B. R. 2015. ‘Veterans’ Homecomings: Secrecy and Postdeployment Social Becoming’. Current Anthropology 56 (Suppl. 12): S231S240. doi:10.1086/683298.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Taylor, B. 2015. ‘Fiscal Year 2014 VA Utilization Report for Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Diagnosed with TBI’. www.polytrauma.va.gov/TBIReports/FY14-TBI-Diagnosis-HCU-Report.pdf.

    • Export Citation
  • Taylor, B. C., E. M. Hagel, K. F. Carlson, D. X. Cifu, A. Cutting, D. E. Bidelspach and N. A. Sayer. 2012. ‘Prevalence and Costs of Co-occurring Traumatic Brain Injury with and without Psychiatric Disturbance and Pain among Afghanistan and Iraq War Veteran VA Users’. Medical Care 50 (4): 342346. doi:10.1097/MLR.0b013e318245a558.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Terry, J. 2009. ‘Significant Injury: War, Medicine, and Empire in Claudia’s Case’. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 37 (1 & 2): 200225. doi:10.1353/wsq.0.0143.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Department of Defense. 2008. Demographics Report. download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Reports/2008%20Demographics.pdf.

  • US Department of Defense. 2017. ‘DoD Numbers for Traumatic Brain Injury Worldwide – Totals: 2000–2017 (Q1–Q3)’. http://dvbic.dcoe.mil/dod-worldwide-numbers-tbi.

    • Export Citation
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2015. ‘VA Traumatic Brain Injury Veterans Health Registry Report: Cumulative from 1st Qtr FY 2002 through 4th Qtr FY 2013 (October 2001 through September 2013)’. Interagency Agreement Reference Numbers: VA798-12-X0063 and ED-OSE-14-K-0007. www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/epidemiology/TBI-report-fy2013-qtr4.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2016. ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury’. www.healthquality.va.gov/guidelines/Rehab/mtbi/mTBICPGFullCPG50821816.pdf.

    • Export Citation
  • Wool, Z. H. 2015. After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 21 21 7
Full Text Views 16 16 1
PDF Downloads 21 21 0