I find the work of Louis Carroll parallels a good deal of what I think and feel in relation to being with people who have aphasia. Listen to Alice here, commenting on self:
” I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is “Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
People with aphasia can describe emerging from the cocoon of stroke in a gradual way, often weeks after the onset, and not really recogizing themselves as the same, or as different. With language as a failed mediator between inner and outer worlds, how very difficult it must be to center, and to take up where one left off in human terms. Relationship, self-awareness, and connection are impacted by this.
Aphasia therapists may also experience this struggle to engage with self in the relationships they establish with those they are working with and their families. I often felt in my early years that the white coat I was made to wear in the hospital setting was more about making me “other” than about maintaining any sort of sanitary standard.. And where we chose to sit when working in our offices – next to our clients, or opposite them, also spoke to our desires to maintain or decrease the therapeutic distance.
Aphasia therapists: move in a little closer.