Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bill Cosby and Brain Damage - The Humor and the Horror

Bill Cosby
In 1964, when I was 19 years old, I was a sophomore at West Point. After the Army-Navy football game that year, which Army won, a perfectly lovely young woman was my date. We went to one of the historic hotels to have dinner, and in one of the banquet rooms there, Bill Cosby was scheduled to give a performance. I had heard one of his records and enjoyed it, so I talked my date into attending. You have to understand that Bill Cosby was only 27 at the time, on the front end of his brilliant career. He wasn't famous yet and he was still paying dues. I remember that only half a dozen people were sitting on folding chairs while he went through some of his favorite routines.

I loved it. But my date was turned off. "That's gross," she said. I was too young to realize that her failure to appreciate his comedy was a red flag waving at me. Fortunately, our relationship didn't go anywhere. But I always remembered that night when Bill Cosby - one of the funniest men who ever lived - performed live, only 15 feet from me.

One of my favorite Bill Cosby routines is when he talks about the frustrations of being a parent...

Maybe my date would have hated this routine, too, since it jokes about children being "brain damaged." What do you think? Gross? I think it's funny, funny, funny. Kids do sometimes behave as if their brains aren't functioning normally.

And yet real brain damage - the non-metaphorical kind - is a tragically serious matter. Brain damage is permanent in most cases, causing a variety of mental disabilities, depending on the area affected. It can even change who you are.

When a pregnant mother ingests drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, these substances can derail normal brain development, causing brain damage.

If a child plays with lead and some of it gets into the bloodstream, it can cause brain damage.

If a very high fever isn't relieved in time, it can cause brain damage.

A tumor can cause brain damage.

An injury to the brain - a blow to the head or a foreign object penetrating the brain - can cause brain damage.

A stroke can cause brain damage.

And then there's the condition that I've been writing about a lot lately. When a young person fails to exercise much critical thinking during adolescence, it causes the basic wiring of the brain area involved in critical thinking to be minimal. The result is an adult with a subpar capacity for higher-level thinking - a deficit that will limit him or her for the rest of life. It's the equivalent of permanent brain damage.

But parents and other adult mentors can do things with a young adult to turn this into a huge positive. I wrote an eBook about this, which is available free. In an article about my West Point experience, I relate that when I was at West Point, I was fortunate to be forced to do a lot of critical thinking. Also, if you're interested, I recently spoke about this topic at length in an interview...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

miline said...

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