Wernicke’s aphasia and the Tower of Babel

WA1In the acute phases, after stroke, patients with Wernicke’s aphasia (WA) show a deep language disturbance. Comprehension is severely impaired as all the other linguistic domains. The spontaneous verbal production is fluent but the patient’s speech is incomprehensible as words are severely deformed (verbal paraphasias). Thus, the patient’s verbal production could sound similar to a foreign language. These patients may be extremely aggressive and might need sedation.
A psychological or psychodynamic hypothesis for the aggressiveness of WA patients is based on the assumption that they are deeply unaware of their own linguistic difficulties, are not able to monitor their own verbal output, and do not understand others’ responses to their language. Thus, WA patients should experience a condition that inevitably engenders frustration, irritability, and feelings of isolation. How do these persons think ant talk to themselves without understanding? How is free will without language? Physical aggressiveness and violence might emerge when there is no freedom to intervene in a world where the words lost their meaning and every one speaks a foreign language (as in the Tower of Babel).

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