Monday, 4 October 2010

US Army Soldier's Brain Injury Aggravates Color-Aroused Speech Behavior

 Behavioral therapy helps limit color-aroused speech.

The Washington Post reports today that a soldier with brain injuries and white skin lost his ability to control color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior and began verbally expressing to Black people whatever ideation came to his mind, after which he experienced the emotion of mirth.
Now, amazingly, Warren, speaking with his same Arkansas drawl, shows flashes of his old self. When Brittanie tells him he's "full of it," he smiles, tickles the top of her head and says, "Yeah, full of Southern pride."
( . . . )
But Barnes can't think about consequences. The mortar round sent shrapnel tearing through his frontal lobe, the region in charge of decision making, reason and morality. As a result, Barnes is impulsive, always in the moment, like an especially reckless 13-year-old. He's 26 but needs round-the-clock supervision.
( . . . )
He beat his life skills coach in bowling, 96-71, Barnes says proudly. But that wasn't his best moment - at least not in the eyes of Josh Shannon, the VA contractor who has worked with Barnes three days a week since he came home from Bethesda three months ago.

The best moment came as Barnes was checking out video games at Wal-Mart. Just then, an overweight African American woman walked by. And Barnes, who is white, said nothing. None of the impulsive, loud comments about her behind or her race that have gotten him in trouble since his injury. Just a once-up-and-down glance and a smirk. Then, only after she was out of earshot, he uttered one quick comment: "Two sacks of potatoes. No, 2.75 sacks."
Shannon celebrated Barnes's success: "Did you see that?" he said proudly.
Barnes had adhered to the 10-foot rule Shannon had been drilling into him - waiting until a person is out of earshot before saying anything derogatory. And Barnes had used their code word: One sack of potatoes is someone who is "merely overweight," Barnes explained. "Two point seven five and you have an ass like a . . ."
"John!" Shannon snapped. "Inappropriate!"

The life skills coach is a human prosthetic, a replacement not for a missing arm or leg but for a damaged frontal lobe. In his constant nitpicking - Barnes can't so much as toss a cigarette butt in Shannon's presence without a reprimand - Shannon does what Barnes's brain used to do. He corrects socially unacceptable behavior and mutes Barnes's impulses. Over time, Shannon thinks, Barnes's brain can be retrained so that he more closely resembles the person he used to be.
Left unclear is whether the color-aroused verbal assaults became part of John's color-aroused complex after the brain injury or whether the ideation, emotion AND behavior were typical of him even before the injury.

It does seem that the ideation he now expresses verbally was probably part of the "Southern Pride" aspect of his color-aroused complex even before he entered the Army.  What seems to be different (but not necessarily) is that after the shrapnel went through his brain he may have lost the ability or willingness to screen and filter his color-aroused ideation and mirth. 

He may have begun saying whatever he thought to perfect strangers whose skin color alone is the cue that commands a complex of color-aroused thoughts, emotions and sometimes at-least-verbal color-aroused antagonistic assaultive behaviors, of which the person of color cannot help but become aware.

His behavior was considered to have improved when, among the three components of color arousal-the ideation, emotion and behavior--he became able limit only the color-aroused antagonistic behavior toward strangers, while maintaining the color aroused ideation and expressing it to intimates, along with the emotions of disdain, superiority, anger and mirth.  It appears that just limiting the expression to strangers of what he thinks and feels is sufficient to be considered a victory, even if his ideation, emotion and expression of these to intimates continue unabated.

He is like a child who has lost the ability to chronically read pornographic magazines, but without speaking or commenting upon the words he is reading, except to intimates.  When he regains the ability to read pornography silently, and comment about it only to intimates, the child is considered to have achieved a key behavioral objective.  He continues to experience the color-aroused ideation and emotion, but limits expression of color-aroused ideation and emotions to intimates.

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