-Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind
Epileptic, a graphic autobiography by David B., and The Idiot, a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, are both works that base their titles on characters. David B.’s title stems from a character he created to represent his brother, Jean-Christophe, who suffers from epilepsy. Dostoevsky’s title is drawn from the diminutive insult other characters use in reference to the epileptic protagonist, Prince Muishkin.
It seems there is a disconnect, somewhere, between the humanity within these characters and the illness that steps forth to represent them. Their own names become lost to a diagnosis, a batch of symptoms, and a stigma. What causes this loss of personhood, and what role could the loss of consciousness experienced during a seizure play in this phenomenon?
By exploring character dynamics within Epileptic and The Idiot, as well as understanding theories put forth by cognitive scientist Antonio Damasio, we can try to gain an understanding of the emphasis we place on constant conscious contact. What does it mean when we say that a previously unconscious person has “come to,” and where do we think he was earlier?