Just last week I was fascinated to hear that a man with severe brain damage who had been barely conscious for 6 years was ‘awakened’ by doctors through electrical deep brain stimulation (read the story here). Now he is not totally conscious, like you and I, but within 48 hours of the surgery he had “turned his head in response to voices and kept his eyes open for prolonged periods of time. After more time, the patient, who previously could not talk, started naming objects and using objects, such as a hair brush, with his hands.” It is unknown whether this man’s condition will improve with rehabilitation, though it is not without precedent in similar cases.
When I heard about this, I immediately began to rethink my position on the Terry Schiavo case, which was pull the tube. After more research, it turns out Mrs. Schiavo’s Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) is very different than the minimally conscious state of this man and many others who will receive this same deep brain stimulation. Which is why the folks at Focus on the Family haven't chimed in with a “We told you so.” Even James Dobson can recognize the difference between an apple and an orange.
I still have one more question though. What does this tell us about the mind, body, spirit divide? Where was this man’s spirit for those six years and in what condition was it? This question totally blows my mind and I honestly don’t even know where to start. Thoughts?