The tenuous self: Narratives of individuals who have experienced mild traumatic brain injuries

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


James L. Bellini


Disability, Traumatic brain injuries

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences | Rehabilitation and Therapy


The Tenuous Self: Narratives of Individuals who have Experienced Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is a qualitative research study that focuses on the disturbance in sense of self as a result of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). The research was conducted through interviews with 7 women and 7 men ages 39 to 59 (mean age at interview 47.9 yrs.; SD 7.7 years) who identified themselves as having MTBI and collateral observers (14 others) chosen by the participants. The mean age at the time of injury was 37.6 years with a standard deviation of 13.9 years.

The dispute among professions in the field surrounding the diagnostic criteria for MTBI is a recurring theme of this dissertation. Disability, as a construct is also controversial. Both constructs are discussed as they relate to how the participants perceive themselves as a result of a traumatic event that disrupted their ways of knowing themselves and the world around them.

The important result of this research is how people who believe that they have MTBI view themselves and how they and intimate "others" perceive the affect of MTBI on their lives. This research is relevant across disciplines in the rehabilitation field (e.g. counseling, medicine, physical therapy). It is also relevant to those in the community who interface with persons with MTBI (e.g. colleagues, employers, friends and family). The research illustrates how the experience of MTBI altered participants' lives from the time it occurred, until the time its sequelae resolved, or until they were able to adjust to its impact on their lives.


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