Self-Identity after Brain Injury (Paperback) book cover

Self-Identity after Brain Injury

By Tamara Ownsworth

© 2014 – Psychology Press

234 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781848723207
pub: 2014-03-24
Hardback: 9781848721098
pub: 2014-03-28
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315819549
pub: 2014-03-26
from $58.95

FREE Standard Shipping!
Look Inside e–Inspection Copy


An injury to the brain can affect virtually any aspect of functioning and, at the deepest level, can alter sense of self or the essential qualities that define who we are. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research investigating changes to self in the context of brain injury. Developments in the cognitive and social neurosciences, psychotherapy and neurorehabilitation have together provided a rich perspective on self and identity reformation after brain injury. This book draws upon these theoretical perspectives and research findings to provide a comprehensive account of the impact of brain injury on self-identity.

The second half of this book provides an in-depth review of clinical strategies for assessing changes in self-identity after brain injury, and of rehabilitation approaches for supporting individuals to maintain or re-establish a positive post-injury identity. The book emphasizes a shift in clinical orientation, from a traditional focus on alleviating impairments, to a focus on working collaboratively with people to support them to re-engage in valued activities and find meaning in their lives after brain injury.

Self-Identity after Brain Injury is the first book dedicated to self-identity issues after brain injury which integrates theory and research, and also assessment and intervention strategies. It will be a key resource to support clinicians and researchers working in brain injury rehabilitation, and will be of great interest to researchers and students in clinical psychology, neuropsychology, and allied health disciplines.


'This book represents a seismic shift in thinking about brain injury and its consequences. Ownsworth explores changes to self-identity from historical, philosophical and contemporary social neuroscience theory through to practical issues in assessment and rehabilitation. Eminently readable, this erudite and clinically relevant work will be valued by all interested in brain injury'. - Skye McDonald, School of Psychology, University of NSW, Australia

'This volume provides the most comprehensive and current discussion of self-identity available. Dr. Ownsworth examines the topic from its philosophical, psychological, neuropsychological and social underpinnings through the impact of brain injury to evidence-based methods to redevelop a healthy sense of self. The effects of brain injury on self-identity are explored from a variety of perspectives: developmental issues, challenges in measurement, and implications for psychotherapeutic and rehabilitative treatment. Individual, group, and social interventions to rebuild self-identity after brain injury are detailed. Dr. Ownsworth not only catalogues but integrates the universe of methods for the evaluation and treatment of a damaged sense of self to suggest a comprehensive approach. This book will be invaluable to those working with individuals who are disabled by damaged self-identity after brain injury. It will also be of significant interest to other researchers, scholars, and clinicians who are grappling with understanding the development and restoration of a healthy self-concept'. - James F. Malec, Indiana University School of Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, USA'

What it means to be who we are as human beings, and how this is affected after neurological injury or illness, encapsulates much of the personal tragedy of acquired brain injury. With Self-Identity after Brain Injury Tamara Ownsworth has succeeded in producing a tour de force everyone involved in the post-acute psychological care and rehabilitation of persons with acquired brain injury, should read. However, this extremely well written book is so much more than an essential practical resource for clinicians. Self-Identity after Brain Injury represents such a formidable integration of the theoretical underpinnings, clinical techniques, case illustrations and the state of current research on identity and brain injury, that it is undoubtedly also essential reading for academics and researchers in the field.'- Rudi Coetzer, Consultant Neuropsychologist, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, NHS Wales

Table of Contents

1. Overview of self-identity after brain injury 2. What is the self? Historical and contemporary accounts 3. Introduction to brain injury and consequences during childhood and adolescence 4. Psychological adjustment and self-identity changes after brain injury 5. Approaches for assessing changes to self after brain injury 6. Individual psychotherapy and neurorehabilitation approaches 7. Group and community-based interventions 8. Family and paediatric Interventions 9. Summary and future directions

About the Author

Tamara Ownsworth is a teaching and research academic in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, with 18 years of experience as a clinician and researcher in the brain injury field. She is also a chief investigator on the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in brain recovery.

About the Series

Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: A Modular Handbook

Rehabilitation is a process whereby people, who have been injured by injury or illness, work together with health service staff and others to achieve their optimum level of physical, psychological, social and vocational well-being (McLellan, 1991). It includes all measures aimed at reducing the impact of handicapping and disabling conditions and at enabling disabled people to return to their most appropriate environment (WHO, 1986; Wilson, 1997). It also includes attempts to alter impairment in underlying cognitive and brain systems by the provision of systematic, planned experience to the damaged brain (Robertson & Murre, 1999). The above views apply also to neuropsychological rehabilitation, which is concerned with the assessment, treatment and natural recovery of people who have sustained an insult to the brain.

Neuropsychological rehabilitation is influenced by a number of fields both from within and without psychology. Neuropsychology, behavioural psychology and cognitive psychology have each played important roles in the development of current rehabilitation practice. So too have findings from studies of neuroplasticity, linguistics, geriatric medicine, neurology and other fields. Our discipline, therefore, is not confined to one conceptual framework; rather, it has a broad theoretical base.

We hope that this broad base is reflected in the modular handbook. The first book was by Roger Barker and Stephen Dunnett which set the scene by talking about "Neural repair, transplantation and rehabilitation". The second title, by Josef Zihl, addressed visual disorders after brain injury. The most recent book by Barbara Wilson, Camilla Herbert and Agnes Shiel focussed on behavioural approaches to rehabilitation. Future titles will include volumes on specific cognitive functions such as language, memory and motor skills, together with social and personality aspects of neuropsychological rehabilitation. Other titles will follow as this is the kind of handbook that can be added to over the years.

Although each volume will be based on a strong theoretical foundation relevant to the topic in question, the main thrust of a majority of the books will be the development of practical, clinical methods of rehabilitation arising out of this research enterprise.

The series is aimed at neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists and other rehabilitation specialists such as occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, rehabilitation physicians and other disciplines involved in the rehabilitation of people with brain injury.

Neuropsychological rehabilitation is at an exciting stage in its development. On the one hand, we have a huge growth of interest in functional imaging techniques to tell us about the basic processes going on in the brain. On the other hand, the past few years have seen the introduction of a number of theoretically driven approaches to cognitive rehabilitation from the fields of language, memory, attention and perception. In addition to both the above, there is a growing recognition from health services that rehabilitation is an integral part of a health care system. Of course, alongside the recognition of the need for rehabilitation is the view that any system has to be evaluated. To those of us working with brain injured people including those with dementia, there is a feeling that things are moving forward. This series, we hope, is one reflection of this move and the integration of theory and practice.


  • McLellan, D. L. (1991). Functional recovery and the principles of disability medicine. In M. Swash & J. Oxbury (Eds.), Clinical neurology. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Robertson, I.H., & Murre, J.M.J. (1999). Rehabilitation of brain damage: Brain plasticity and principles of guided recovery. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 544–575.
  • Wilson, B.A. (1997). Cognitive rehabilitation: How it is and how it might be. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 3, 487-496.
  • World Health Organisation (1986). Optimum care of disabled people. Report of a WHO meeting, Turku, Finland.

Barbara A. Wilson

Ian H. Robertson

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Neuropsychology