Inaccurate media portrayal of memory problems or brain injury can be frustrating for those who are living with those problems on a daily basis. Typically a character in a film will experience a head trauma, say falling off a boat as in the case of Goldie Hawn in the 1987 film ‘Overboard’ and then undergo a complete personality changes. Goldie’s character in this film goes from being a ‘bad’ mother to a doting parent overnight. Whilst an individual’s personality can change following brain injury the blanket manner in which it is often described in the movie industry is often far removed from reality. They suffer very few problems managing everyday tasks, while managing to hold down new jobs and function socially with the marked change being in their personality.
Research published in the British Medical Journal by Dr Sallie Baxendale of the National Society for Epilepsy highlighted the unlikely truth that a cartoon about a fish with memory problems actually bore more relevance than those involving humans. She said: “Unlike most films in this genre, this amnesiac character retains his identity, has little retrograde amnesia and shows several of the severe everyday memory difficulties associated with the disorder.”
Being a father of two young children I must have seen this film numerous times. With each watch I still find the tale of Dory, the fish with memory problems, moving through her daily life and finding the strength of character to help a father find his lost son heartening. Despite her obvious difficulties in recalling names or knowing where she is, Dory manages to succeed and also be happy within herself. Something that is key to recovery from any brain injury. As Dory would say………….”Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming………”
Dr. Fraser Morrison, Clinical Director, Alba Psychology