Neuropsychologists blog about neuropsychology - Changing Minds


Life lessons learned from Rake

I was a newcomer to the television show Rake, and have only watched it a few times. I was thinking last night during a particularly poignant episode (it's the last one for the series), that there are many life lessons that can be learned from Rake, and shows like it, which I think is a big part of their appeal.

As I am a newcomer, I'm not completely across the full plotline, characters, subtleties etc., so please forgive any errors. It's not really about the show so much anyway, as about what it can teach us. There's also one correction that 'needs' to be made (we are neuropsychologists after all), to the storyline involving the witness who had sustained a brain injury after a fight with Cleaver Greene.

1. The only certainty in life is change

When I started watching the show, Cleaver Greene was recently out of gaol, had no job, no clients, and no relationship; his apartment had been taken over by his secretary, and his ex-wife was about to remarry. By the end of the series, he had rebuilt his career, retained numerous high profile clients, his ex-wife was single again, and was building what appeared to be quite a healthy relationship with a new woman. Rake takes it to extremes of course, few people's life circumstances are that dire, or change that quickly, but no matter how bad things are, take comfort in the fact that they will change.

2. The brain is an amazing organ

The storyline about Rake's ex-wife Wendy being only able to speak Bahasa following a siege where she is held hostage by her fiancé seems a bit far-fetched, but there have been other cases of individuals losing their first language (temporarily) and only being able to speak a second language following trauma. (As far as I'm aware the other known cases have been following brain trauma rather than psychological trauma, so a bit of poetic licence has been taken by the show here. Or maybe she did sustain a brain injury, I'm not sure.). It is thought that this can happen following damage sustained in the area of the brain where language knowledge is stored. The ability to speak a first language tends to be localised to an area in the left hemisphere of the brain, whereas the ability to speak a second language predominantly comes from the right hemisphere. So when trauma results in better recall of the second language, it may be that they had an injury to the left side of the brain and are better able to access the knowledge of the second language localised to the right hemisphere.

The correction...

The other reference to the human brain in this episode warrants further discussion. Cleaver manages to discredit a witness who had recently sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) by claiming that since he had developed amnesia, they couldn't rely on his testimony about events that had occurred (as far as I'm aware) some time prior to the injury. The type of amnesia that follows a mTBI tends to be difficulty recalling events that occurred around the time of the incident. People may experience retrograde amnesia (loss of memories formed shortly before the injury, typically minutes before for a mTBI) and/or anterograde amnesia (difficulties creating new memories after the injury, e.g., remembering new appointments, learning new tasks) following a mTBI. So while it is possible that the witness would not recall that it was Cleaver who attacked him, he is however very unlikely to have difficulties recalling details of the fraudulent deal which was the subject of the court case.

3. Being genuine is endearing

Cleaver Greene is a bit of a 'Warnie' (Shane Warne) type character. No matter how badly he behaves, he always has his fair share of loyal friends and lovers, and the appeal of his character is a big part of the show's success. This is because he is genuine. While he may tell the odd lie to get out of trouble, overall with Cleaver Greene what you see is what you get: he doesn't pretend to be anyone other than who he is. Pretending to be somewhat you're not may impress people in the short-term, but real friendships and relationships are built on a foundation of being genuine.

If you'd like to know more about traumatic brain injury, mental health issues, assessment of brain injury or illness or rehabilitation following brain injury, please contact the team at ANTS.