Beside Oneself with Rage: The Doubled Self as Metaphor in a Narrative of Brain Injury with Emotional Dysregulation

  • Jorie HofstraEmail author


People narrating the experience of dysregulated anger after a brain injury call upon metaphor in patterned ways to help them make sense of their situation. Here, I analyze the use of the metaphor of the doubled self in a personal narrative of brain injury, and I situate this metaphor in its cultural history by analyzing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Incredible Hulk as landmark moments in its development. A pattern of thought reflecting Seneca’s philosophy on the incompatibility of anger with rational selfhood emerges. I discuss implications for the way we care for people struggling with post-brain-injury anger.


Brain injury Emotion Metaphor Narrative Identity 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DGE-0937373. I thank the authors of the memoirs cited here for their openness in publishing their narratives. I have been fortunate to have the guidance of Joanna Kempner, Allan Horwitz, Eviatar Zerubavel, and Judy Gerson on the larger project of which this paper is a part, and valuable feedback on key stages of the larger project from Sara Rubin, Phaedra Daipha, the participants in Dr. Daipha’s spring 2014 methods workshop, and the participants in the 2017-2018 Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis seminar on the medical humanities, directed by Ann Jurecic and Susan Sidlauskas. I am grateful to the editors and anonymous reviewers of this journal for their close reading and insightful advice. I thank Jan Verstraete for his constant support, perceptive commentary on drafts of this paper, and wise counsel in navigating every stage of the project.


1Future research might inquire into the possibility that certain prototypical metaphors correspond with injury-related variables, and that these correspondences might have diagnostic value. The metaphors most commonly used to describe anger resulting from disinhibition, for instance, might differ from those most commonly used to describe anger resulting from the frustrations of recovery.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers, Department of SociologyThe State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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