Phineas Gage

So I’ve been studying for my neuroanatomy final for tomorrow. One of the topics covered in this unit is the functions of the various cerebral cortices. Higher-order function cortices, to be specific.

I have ADHD, which involves an impairment in the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

So while reviewing the slides on the PFC, I get to where we talk about results of lesions to specific areas of the PFC.

I mean, I was already aware of most of this stuff.

But then I saw the name “Phineas Gage” in my notes. He’s the go-to example for what can happen to a person after receiving damage to the orbitofrontal area (OFC) of the PFC.

And then it hit me – I’m ADHD = I have an impaired PFC = I have an impaired OFC = I’M FUSKING PHINEAS GAGE.

I know, it’s pretty obvious, but for some reason I didn’t make the connection until now. And I guess it just stunned me because in general, society doesn’t seem to take ADHD diagnoses very seriously. “It’s overdiagnosed”, “you’re just using it as an excuse to be lazy”, “you faked the diagnosis so you could get the Adderall”, etc. And most are only aware of its effects in an academic setting.

I was only diagnosed about a year and a half ago, and I still sometimes question whether I truly have it, or if I’ve just convinced myself that I do. So I guess suddenly comparing myself to a well-known patient who received damage to the same area in which I have an impairment just made me realize the potential severity of problems that people with ADHD can have.

Ironically, it’s comforting. Of course, I’ll still beat myself up over making impulse purchases, playing video games (or blogging on Tumblr) when I should be studying, being unable to control my temper, not being able to study unless when procrastinating (if even then), spending an hour on an email that should only take 10 minutes max, etc.

But it’s nice to be reassured that my problems aren’t insignificant, that I’m not a failure at life because I’m having so much difficulty doing things that other people do easily or out of habit (e.g., eating regular meals, doing the dishes, taking a shower, getting out of the fusking bed). It’s nice to be able to give myself proof that I have good reason to feel bad about myself.

Wait wat. That last sentence makes sense on some level, I know it does! :<

And of course, this post that was only supposed to take like 10-15 minutes ended up taking an hour (or more?) because ADHD. WOOT.

If anyone’s curious, here’s the link to the paper I used for those paragraph images about Phineas Gage and the OFC. And yes, those of you who came from my twitter, I made a post from the thing I tweeted like an hour ago.

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