I can’t make an official diagnosis until I get a diffusion tensor image of my dad’s brain. Unofficially, however, I will say this: When he went over the handle bars of his bike and hit his head on the pavement, the blunt force trauma almost certainly resulted in the formation of a frontal lobe lesion. It took thirteen stitches to close the scalp laceration he received on impact, and the attending ER doctor told him that it was comparable to head injuries he had seen sustained in car accidents.
Psychiatric disorders resulting from acquired brain injuries are well documented. For instance, frontal lobe lesions are directly related to behavioural changes, particularly those associated with reasoning and judgment, impulse control, and crises of identity. These changes can lead to isolation, which can generate anxiety and depression. Age is a factor as well. It plays a significant role in ABIs, because the human brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties. Damage occurring before this age is far more likely to result in lasting developmental disabilities. My dad was under ten years old when he had his accident, so if he suffered a frontal lobe injury, chances are it will continue to affect him for the rest of his life.
Would a frontal lobe injury account for the appearance of Frank? Perhaps. However, it’s important to remember the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence. Although Frank appeared immediately after my dad hit his head, this sequence of events does not, in and of itself, constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that Frank was the product of my dad’s accident.
Would a frontal lobe lesion, combined with a large dose of magic mushrooms, account for my dad’s lengthy fireside discussion with Frank? Again, perhaps. But the answer to this question is more a function of your views on alternate realities, different dimensions, the supernatural, the paranormal etc.
It’s worth mentioning here that magic mushrooms are now being studied in clinical trials, and the results are game-changing. Psilocybin has been proven effective for treating people with treatment-resistant depression, and anxiety. A single dose has been shown to reboot the cognitive circuitry of the severely depressed, effectively curing them. What so many ancient cultures knew, is now being acknowledged in the laboratory.
I would like to address one final thing that was brought to my attention by my editor, who, upon reading the sex scene between my dad and Sam, called me up and asked me if I was really prepared to put that kind of thing out into the world, considering, of course, that I’m his daughter. This came as a complete surprise to me, because it hadn’t crossed my mind that that scene might be viewed as anything other than a biographer’s dutiful inclusion of a formative event. And maybe that’s the reward of writing. You see, before starting this book I said to myself that I would tell the story of my dad’s “delving day”, as Bukowski would call it, without walking back the darkness, or sanitizing the dirt. Hagiographies, as we all know, are as boring as they are bullshit. Besides, what if we all just need to ride the bus. What if we all just need to remember who we are. What if we all just need to talk about death and freedom, do mushrooms in the forest and get laid every once in a while.
Maybe that’s the not-so-secret secret to life.
*excerpt from the Omnibus Edition of Taxicab to Wichita and Bus Back to Omaha