Popular film star George Clooney has recently disclosed a year-long bout with a brain injury resulting from an accident he suffered during the filming of the movie “Syriana.”
Various news reports indicate the he tore the dura surrounding his spinal cord, which began leaking fluid. He also sustained what he calls a “bruised brain” which brought with it long, excruciating headaches that tormented him throughout the past year. Mr. Clooney eventually underwent several surgeries which remedied his pain, but he also reportedly experienced memory and cognitive problems, suggesting that the injury was more severe than the press may understand.
To me, this is a great example of how the media treats traumatic brain injury, and how culture works to obfuscate the real and lasting effects of a brain injury. Mr. Clooney has a career at stake, so it is probably in his financial interest to keep quiet about the more difficult effects his injury has caused. Did it give him problems memorizing his lines? Did he develop any depressive or anxiety-based symptoms? Is he prone to angry outbursts now? Over time, we may see a side to Mr. Clooney that reveals a more human aspect of brain injury, and hopefully those stories will propel greater advocacy. As it stands, I’m disappointed that his brain injury has been dismissed as a negligible bump on the head.