Posted on October 20, 2016 · Posted in Brain Injury

Roald Dahl was a force to be reckoned with. As a writer, his books sold over 250 million copies globally. Some of his most famous children’s works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and The BFG, to name a few.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl wrote numerous creative and imaginative children’s books. Did his TBI contribute to his creative output? (Flickr / Creative Commons / Wee Sen Goh)

It takes a special person to write such imaginative books for children. To his friends, Dahl said that his creativity began after his traumatic brain injury. He was fighting in World War II at the time.

He was commanded to fly a Gloster Gladiator. To his surprise, he received no training in aerial combat. He was ordered to fly to Libya as part of his mission.

During his mission, he could not find an airstrip to land. He had to try to land in the desert. When the undercarriage hit a boulder, he had to crash land in Libya.

From the crash, he sustained a serious head injury, which fractured his skull, smashed his nose, and caused temporary blindness. This bang on the head is what Dahl would tell his friends unleashed his creative spirit. His doctor, Tom Solomon, would agree, in a way.

The doctor, Solomon, became friends with the author in the last weeks of his life in 1990 while treating him. Dahl died at the age of 74 of a blood disease. During his life, he even taught his kids to believe in magic, writing “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Dahl liked to believe that he had sudden artistic output syndrome, a condition where brain damage ignites a spark in the arts that wasn’t there before. His childhood letters and stories exhibited creativity. These proved that he did not have the condition that he liked to believe he had.

But his doctor, Solomon, said that his brain damage “may have tipped things.” Dahl had damaged his frontal lobe, which deals with inhibition. With damage to his frontal lobe, he became disinhibited and wrote things other people wouldn’t dare.

He wrote fearlessly. He continued on even though his dark style was controversial at the time. The year 2016 marks the hundredth anniversary of Dahl’s birth.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447