Dear Dr. Archer,
My brother had a motorcycle accident 25 years ago and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I'm now his caretaker, and have nobody to talk to. I find one thing he does very interesting.... as well as irritating, at the same time.
He never finishes anything. The box of cereal has 1/4 of a serving; the roll of bathroom tissue is replaced, but the old one has one more use on it, and it piles up with the other rolls of almost used up paper; bottles of ketchup, hot sauce, syrup all have one tablespoon left and the bottle sits there, taking up space.
He reads a book and puts it down halfway through the last chapter. He gets up and walks away from the television on the last lap of a car race or ten minutes before the plot is finished in a movie that he's been interested in.
I can go on with everything he does, although no project he will complete to perfection. Is there a term for this? Is this accident related?
I have never encountered or heard of someone with a TBI having this particular sort of behavior, but that doesn't mean it’s not the cause.
A TBI can trigger many strange behaviors, compulsive behaviors such as washing, cleaning, counting, needing reassurances, and arranging items. Some victims no longer want social contacts, exhibit agitation, won't obey directions, and are restless.
Problems reading or recognizing individual words can occur, or television shows cannot be watched to their conclusion, due to a sudden lack of interest. Sometimes, when the injured person becomes stuck on a thought or action, such as not finishing something, they cannot be dissuaded.
In the grand scheme of things, I say if this is all he's doing differently, then be thankful -- be very thankful. It could be so much worse.
Just venting sometimes, and talking to someone who's been there can do wonders. Good luck.