Higher-level cognitive deficits

The chances are good that at best Malala will be less than she would have been if those shits hadn’t shot her in the head. Time talked to a brain injury expert.

When will they be able to tell what the long-term damage is?

Months to years. It’s six months to a year before you get a sense of what the long-term damage is. Her recovery and prognosis depend on what the initial neurological deficits are. Young people do much better, prognostically, for recovery. In the early stages there may be a lot of fairly dramatic improvements. The question becomes, What will be the long-term deficits, compared to her baseline? That’s often a much more difficult question that takes time. She may be able to walk and talk, but will she be able to function? I’m sure she’s a very bright girl. Will she be at the same level?

Is it possible that she’ll be able to return to how she was before the injury?

I would say, given the severity of the injury, there is a strong possibility there may be some deficits. That doesn’t necessarily mean she can’t function and have a fulfilling life, but [there is a chance of] higher-level cognitive deficits.

Which is what they wanted. It’s what they all want. Women should be stupid and ignorant, so that they can’t fight back.


  1. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    And some moderates wonder why some of we atheists refuse to give respect to any god belief.

  2. tauriqmoosa says

    The embodiment of thugs. Horrible, but I’m glad she’s being looked after. Pity there isn’t a hell for these men to go to.

    Hitchens argued well for us not to have heroes: I’ve managed to not to do that, until I started reading and watching videos about her. Sorry, Mr Hitchens: but she is mine.

    (If there is charity needed to fund her medical expenses, please let us know. I’ve not seen any.)

  3. AnyBeth says

    It sound like you think higher level cognitive deficits leave people stupid, ignorant, and/or unable to fight back. I hope you don’t think that.

    If Malala will not be able to do some things she was formerly able to do (or would be able to do in her imaginary future, had she not been shot), if she will have lasting disabilities acquired from her injuries, she is no less. She is no less her. She is no less strong.

    I hope Malala recovers and does so swiftly. I hope that she is provided all the tools she needs for her rehabilitation and that any lasting deficits are manageable.

    We humans are pretty amazing at our ability to adapt. I shouldn’t count her out. Or any of those with higher level cognitive deficits–like me.

  4. Steve Zara says

    I do so hope she can truly recover. It is not unknown, even from quite serious brain injuries, even in adult brains. The thought of those wicked people having eroded that wonderful young person in this way is unbearably tragic.

  5. octopod says

    “She is no less her.”

    I understand what you are trying to say here, but doesn’t having traumatic cognitive disturbances actually change the way you behave and perceive the world, compared to how you were previously?

  6. says

    Well if that’s how it turns out then she will be less.

    That’s how it turned out for Gabrielle Gifford. That’s how it turns out for countless people who survive head trauma – war veterans, civilians caught in attacks, athletes, victims of crimes.

    Of course I don’t mean she will be of less intrinsic value or anything. But they will have done part of what they meant to do, which is part of what they do to women routinely by stunting their intellectual development by keeping them out of school and work.

    I have plenty of higher level cognitive deficits too. You don’t see me putting Rovers on Mars do you! But at least it’s not because anyone shot me in the head.

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    ‘they will have done part of what they meant to do, which is part of what they do to women routinely by stunting their intellectual development by keeping them out of school and work.’

    A. D. Hope
    Advice to Young Ladies

    A.U.C. 334: about this date,
    For a sexual misdemeanour which she denied,
    The vestal virgin Postumia was tried;
    Livy records it among affairs of state.

    They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
    The charge arose because some thought her talk
    Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
    Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

    The Pontifex Maximus , summing up the case,
    Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
    To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
    She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

    What then? With her the annalist is less
    Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
    Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare-
    I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

    Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
    To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
    A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
    Had fair trial, then they buried her alive;

    Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark;
    A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
    Preserved the body they did not wish to die
    Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

    How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
    Spirited girls who would not know their place,
    Talented girls who found that the disgrace
    Of being a woman made genius a crime.

    How many others, who would not kiss the rod,
    Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
    Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
    Husbands, St. Paul declared, rank next to God.

    Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
    That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
    Tacitus, writing after both had died,
    Showed that whole fabric rotten, through and through.

    Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
    Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
    From great defects of policy – perhaps
    The cause is sometimes simpler than they think.

    It may not seem so grave an act to break
    Postumia’s spirit as Galileo’s, to gag
    Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
    Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

    Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
    For having shackled the enquiring mind,
    Than those who, in their folly not less blind,
    Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

    It’s a pity Hope couldn’t/didn’t say it didn’t matter a damn if Postumia was ‘pure’ or not, but the message still applies.

  8. Enzyme says

    Maybe I’ve missed something, but this seems like very lazy journalism. They appear simply to have contacted the first neurologist on their rolodex – no matter that he’s thousands of kilometres from the hospital where she’s being treated, and is plainly speculating all through. And for the second question to be about shaving her head… is hair that important?


  9. says

    I guess so, but it did address what I’ve been wondering – what’s the usual outcome of an injury like that? – so I thought it was some help. He does say he’s speculating.

    At least I didn’t post the part about shaving the hair!

  10. barrypearson says

    Am I the only one who is uncomfortable with the discussion about whether she may be mentally impaired? If she apparently recovers, are we always going to be wondering “yes, but is she mentally impaired?”

    I hope she gets the chance to tell us herself, if she wants to.

  11. AnyBeth says

    Yes, brain damage often changes how one perceives and behaves. So do many, many other things, including just time. Acquired disability changes how you behave and how you perceive the world if only because it changes how the world perceives you and behaves to you.
    Look, the brain has billions of connections, right? If one road is closed in major metro, are you going to tell me it’s no longer said city because it changed the traffic patterns? You lose a finger and your whole arm’s off? Damage to the brain changes things but there’s a great deal of interconnectivity and various redundancies at different levels.

    Definitely not the only one. I suspect there will always be people to wonder, people to imagine how they think she ought to have been. Of course, if she recovers enough to test normal but still isn’t as capable at some things as she used to be, there will also be people who will say she’s absolutely fine and faking any claimed difficulties. I hope recovers and never hears of such things. Surely it’s hard enough without having to defend yourself as still being mentally capable and/or largely being mentally capable but still having some real problems.

    Ophelia Benson:
    If she were instead to have lost her dominant hand, would you say she was less than before? If she were physically whole but had PTSD, would you? Are all those with disabilities less or is it some subset? Do the disabilities have to be acquired rather than congenital? Must they be from trauma only? Or is it just brain damage?
    If you don’t mean she’s of less intrinsic value now, then what exactly do you mean? How, now, will she be less?
    You astound me by suggesting that, since you aren’t “putting Rovers on Mars”, you have “plenty of higher level cognitive deficits, too.” Is this because I indicated I have those kind of deficits? Mine aren’t from being shot in the head, no, but they are backed up by neuropsychological testing and MRI evidence. Yours?
    I had hoped I was taking your words wrong. I’m disappointed to see that wasn’t so.

  12. says

    … meh. Closer reading of sources and patterns needed re ‘out of coma’…

    … this is probably mostly secondary sources overreading a Facebook post by an NYT reporter. She wasn’t in a coma to begin with, or not lately. And she’s not ‘fully conscious’ yet, so on. There’s some stuff about limbs working, again. So it’s probably not really news.

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