Coma in Movies

Coma is a phenomenon that philosophers of mind should probably spend more time thinking about. As Reuters Health reports, a recent article in Neurology has found that most popular movies misrepresent coma, and most people don’t notice.

One comment

  1. CK

    I can’t watch movies/TV shows dealing with neurological problems, since I live with a neurologist. Actually, pretty much all medical shows are spoiled for me, except for Scrubs which all our friends agree is the most accurate depiction of residency out there.

    For example, in Six Feet Under–which is a show that does a good job dealing with other issues–a leading character died of an AVM (arteriovenus malformation). He keeled over after saying his arm was numb, and was rushed to the ER. After surgery, he was pronounced to be comatose. OK. Next thing we know, he “wakes up” with only a little weakness on one side. He’s talking, interacting, looks just fine except for a head bandage. His daughter is even climbing all over him!

    Oh, and then he suddenly dies. Except that when he codes, *no one* comes into the room–his brother is watching him while the machines behind him are bleeping and going crazy. Hello? Do you think they make noise for a reason, like to call people?

    So, yeah. Bad depictions. And it definitely affects what patients and their families expect.

    But as regards philosophy… we had a discussion last night with two MDs and one MD/PhD about consciousness and how conceptual states influence the way we feel pain. I left feeling that more philosophers ought to shadow doctors, and take some anatomy courses. It might wind up being helpful for both disciplines.

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