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"I'm Really Not Rude or Self-Absorbed; It's the Brain Injury"

Comments [4]

Click on any phrase to play the video at that point.
Good afternoon, everyone. It's Adam again. I wanted to share some excerpts from a conversation I was having with veterans, some servicemembers, their spouses, and some of their caregivers in regards to TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a bunch of other combat- and military-related illnesses and traumas. One of the things that I really noticed that stood out to me was the comment from a lot of the spouses saying that their military member, their spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury appears self-absorbed, rude in public situations or in social settings, kind of like they'll be having a conversation with somebody, the light's on but nobody's home. And then when the person doesn't receive the response or the communication, conversation feedback that they were expecting, they perceive that as the veteran being rude or kind of just blatantly disregards, self-absorbed, or arrogant. In my experience with traumatic brain injury and with a lot of my friends-- almost all of my friends who've experienced traumatic brain injury-- that's just a very common symptom. And it ultimately results from the loss or the lack of awareness of the filter when they're talking. They kind of instead of thinking sequentially between, "All right, I've got a thought." "Should I say it?" and then delivering that, they go straight to delivery. Shoot first, ask questions later. And so it comes across like, "No. Yes. Blah, blah." And so it comes across rude, without any thought being put into that or how the general public would take that comment. That's not an uncommon situation. I'm here to tell you that that happens to a lot of individuals with traumatic brain injury or who have gone through traumatic events where their cognitive functions are just not as precise as they used to be. So don't let it get you down. It can be troublesome at times, but just work on kind of having that primer. Try and charge yourself, your brain and your emotional state. Get yourself ready to filter your comments before you say them. A lot of times that will have a great positive impact in public and the perception of people thinking that the veteran or the TBI survivor is rude, arrogant, or self-absorbed. Hope that helps. Try it out and let me know how it works.

show transcriptShow transcript | Print transcript

Adam knows from his experiences as well as those of most of his friends with TBI that social situations can be difficult. Sometimes they know they can come off as "rude or self-absorbed" but that way of being, or seeming, is more a function of cognitive dysfunction.

Adam profile thumbnail

Hi, I’m Adam Anicich

I’m a former Army Sergeant, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, a service-disabled vet, and someone with a brain injury. I’m here to share my story with you — along with some practical tips — and I hope that I can help you in your own journey of recovery.

Learn more about Adam >


Comments [4]

Thank you! That was helpful!!

Jul 26th, 2015 1:17pm

You are spot on Adam! A lot of times in conversations I feel like I don't know when the right time is to take part in the conversation. Thanks for posting this!

Nov 6th, 2013 11:47am

Many of my patients with TBI have problems with cross talk conversations and with multiple people in a room. It becomes auditorily and visually too busy. They get short many times because of the filtering, like Adam said in the video, but also their ability to process multiple things at the same time (parallel processing) has been reduced to single topic processing (series processing). They get frustrated and just want to get out of the situation and get a bit short in their replies for that reason also. They also get lost in a paragraph when reading and forget what they may have just read. Often visually complex things will be bothersome that never were a problem before. A Christmas tree is a good example. Often times they are waaay too busy for someone with TBI, but that person has a hard time telling you why they find the Christmas tree upsetting. My office offers FREE (no kidding, no bologna) TBI treatment for those Iraq/Afg. vets or active duty service members that want the help. I have space for 3 more at this time and my staff and I would be honored to help. Check out our program at: You can call the office if you have questions. 502 647 3937 Take care, Dan Bowersox, OD, FCOVD Shelbyville, KY

Sep 17th, 2012 7:26pm

I totally agree with Adam that the auditory and visual filter are disrupted after a TBI. In my 30 years of experience, the best way to reconnect the filter is to rehearse internal dialogue, the meta cognitive conversation. I developed an Iphone app to provide the individual with thousands of opportunities to develop auditory and visual filters which reduce impulsivity. STRONG MIND PUZZLES is available for $1.99. The instructions are on a recording with an example of how to use the interactive game. The background color of the game can be changed to accommodate for eye fatigue also associated with TBI. I hope to make more of my programs available to the greater population soon. warm regards, my very best wishes, Donalee Markus Ph.D.

Sep 11th, 2012 12:26pm


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