Posted on October 26, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 17 of 28 in the series Lori

 Sexuality After Traumatic Brain Injury: Lori Part Seventeen  

One of the areas that’s most affected by brain injury is the disconnection between a physical response and an intimate response.  There is also a very strong impulsivity issue that impacts sexuality.  We first learn the word inhibited in the context of sexuality, and in that context, it is often easier to understand the flip side of that, disinhibition. My interview with Lori on these complex issues continued regarding her sexuality after traumatic brain injury:

Now you mentioned that you needed to feel desired with your sexuality after traumatic brain injury and you were desired by the other man.  But was it also a very impulsive type of interaction with your sexuality after traumatic brain injury? 

Yeah.  The way that that relationship began was because I forced myself.  Mm hmm.  I tried to force myself upon that person.  I made, I kind of just said here I am and I want this to happen and that person said okay.  And so that was very impulsive.

However, at the time I didn’t feel that it was impulsive.  I, I, I kind of felt like – if it’s a good analogy – I kind of felt like I was an actress and that I was trying to act out the person that I should be and the woman that I should be and the sexual being that I should be.  So it still doesn’t seem real to me but I know.  Does that, was that clear?  Did that help at all?

It’s very helpful. 

We talked about the change in your maturity between the time you were 20 and 24, as you worked at the Realtors Association.  One of the things that you gain, as you grow from 14 to 24, is you learn a very sophisticated, complex dance of sexuality –  your interactions with members of the opposite sex. You learn how to give cues and flirt, to show your interest. 

Missing Desire with Her Sexuality after Traumatic Brain Injury

As you look back, was that missing and replaced with I just want sex and so I’m going to ask for it because of your sexuality after traumatic brain injury ? 

What I recognize now, hugely now, because I work with traumatic brain injured, and I study traumatic brain injury and I do support online and I do it one on one. And what I recognize now is that we had that development erased.  And so all little girls – little girls, from the time they’re 3 years old – I remember when I was a little girl my mom dressing me up in a dress and giving me pretty ruffled pink panties, and then I would walk through a family gathering and she’d say, oh look at Lori’s pretty pink panties.

You know, little girls are used to that kind of stuff, and that’s how we develop and that’s how we grow.  To have that all erased and to start out being an adult all over again, where I learned how to walk again and learned how to crawl.  I learned how to use a spoon, I learned how to breathe and talk.

But no one retaught me how to be a girl again and how to, and what’s flirting and what’s not flirting.  And I’ve always very much loved other people.  I love my friends.  I’ve always loved my friends.  I love my family and my pets; I love my pets.  I love other people.  If I don’t, if I don’t love you I still talk to you.

I just love other people.

And so that was really hard for me because as I was relearning everything. I would meet new people and there’d be new people in my world.  And if new people were in my world and we got along, then I loved them.  And if I told them I love them, in my mind that just meant my being thinks you’re a good person.  But those were adult men that I was talking to, and if I said I love you, if I said I love you, a man would be like oh yeah.

Misinterpretation of Her Sexuality after Traumatic Brain Injury

So when they would come back with a sexual pass, did you know how to react to that with your sexuality after traumatic brain injury ? 

At the time that I had the affair, I wanted that reaction.  But when other passes like that, I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  And I didn’t know if that was a form of friendship.

I did not know that if I was walking through a mall and I was talking to a man and – and this didn’t happen – but if, if a man would come up to me and then just pat my butt, I didn’t know that that was inappropriate, and I didn’t know that that wasn’t being friendship.  No one taught me that, I didn’t know.  And I see that with other brain-injured individuals also.

As many brain injury survivors do, Lori had a rough time with her sexuality after traumatic brain injury.  She had a hard time distinguishing between sexual desire and affection.


Next in Part Eighteen – Walking Down the Aisle Like a Lady Despite TBI

About the Author

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