8Myths about Brain Disorder and Illness

Of all the myths in this book, those that pertain to brain injury and illness have the most potential to cause harm and incite prejudice. Writers find that brain disorders make for great material and many of the public's misconceptions about brain illness and injury can be traced to unrealistic fictional depictions in film and literature. In this chapter, I'll provide you with some basic facts about brain injury, coma, dementia, amnesia, autism, and epilepsy. I'll show you how these conditions are misrepresented in fiction and I'll correct the myths that have arisen as a result. Some illness-related myths are dangerous – such as the belief that autism is caused by the MMR vaccine against measles and rubella. Others are oversimplifications, including the idea that mood disorders are caused by a simple chemical imbalance in the brain. Throughout this chapter, we'll see yet again how the truth is often more nuanced and fascinating than the mythology.

Myth #35 Brain Injury and Concussion Myths

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) incurred through accident, sports, or violence is increasingly common, especially among youths, and becoming more so. For young people in rich countries, TBI is now the leading cause of death. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in 2010 show that 7 million brain injuries occur in the US every year with an estimated annual financial burden of $60 billion. UK data reveal an estimated 1 million brain ...

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