Here's a fascinating article, which may give some people the willies. It's the story of scientists who believe they're close to the world first head transplant.
it on Facebook, I said more than once that the fallacy here, as I
understood it, was the assumption that all our identity is in our brain,
even that all our memories are in our head. I've long said that we hold
memories throughout our bodies. The assumption that all this tissue and
bone are just parts that are interchangeable, given some matches (blood
type and such), is . . . it's just a fallacy. I think.
you, organ transplants are an amazing gift. There are endless stories
of lives saved via these miracles of modern medicine. I'm not speaking
I've also heard anecdotes of people who
received a new organ and then having new food cravings, only to learn
the donor favored such foods. (Is there research on this? Probably.
Someone point me to it.)
To transplant a head is to do
more than just replace an organ, it's to replace whole systems. With a
single organ, it makes sense that one person would remain dominant. With
a complete transplant of the nervous system, gastro-intestinal system, skin---well, I'm left speechless.
article does speculate that, if successful, what may emerge is a new
person, neither of the previous people---the head or the body---fully
surviving. That makes complete sense to me.
posted last night to Facebook by a friend, is speaking to the idea that
we store memories, particularly of pain, at the cellular level. Chronic
pain might be sites in our bodies remembering trauma.
also makes sense to me. What are my aching feet but memories of years
working in retail, on my feet all day, on concrete floors?
is so much that remains mysterious about who we are, how our identity
emerges, develops. I can't help but think about this in spiritual terms.
The Christian teaching that our identities are in our bodies, that our
bodies are not inconsequential, but that we await a resurrection (one
full of scars!) and, yes, transformation, but still fully who we are.
this means to someone with a disabled body, I can only guess, and not
mine to speculate on. I have sympathy for the man in the first article,
the one with a withering and dying body, who is willing to grab at this
chance for life in a healthy body.
We have, to
some extent, interchangeable parts and yet we are not simply cogs that
have to match Ford to Ford, Honda to Honda. Perhaps one day science will
unlock the secrets of the brain and how the systems throughout our
unique bodies creates individual personalities, but I suspect that we
will always find something inexplicable. Perhaps if these scientists
succeed in their attempt with a head transplant, we'll learn a lot
In the meantime, all I have to say is: be gentle with your body and the bodies around you.