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10 year Anniversary: Surviving Viral Encephalitis
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  • 12
  • 2021

10 year Anniversary: Surviving Viral Encephalitis 

by David E Shaw

2021 marks the 10 year anniversary of a nearly fatal viral infection in my brain, creating a medical condition known as viral encephalitis. Before starting a new year I want to take this occasion to express gratitude to everyone who has helped me in the epic struggle to survive this disease, and to thrive in the face of the serious cognitive disabilities it created.  

I am deeply appreciative of medical care from Maine Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and other sources.  Family and friends have been extraordinarily important sources of support in a long and challenging recovery process.  Their love and inspiration helped me through times of darkness, despair and exasperation.  

A silver lining of my struggle with viral encephalitis has been the opportunity to experience altered consciousness from injuries to my right brain, and the necessity to immerse myself in better understanding the fascinating realms of human consciousness, behavioral health, neuroplasticity, and contemplative sciences.  These new frontiers of scientific exploration are among the most important and fascinating issues of our times.  

In the spirit of sharing my experiences to benefit others, I’m honored that my fruitful struggle with encephalitis served as inspiration for novel brain health initiatives including the creation of a center for integrated brain health at Harvard and MGH.  Announcement of that center was included in a session at the Sages and Scientists Symposium several years ago where shared my experience.  Excerpts from that symposium and my commentary are included in this video intended to convey hope that we are at the dawn of a new era of important insights to improve brain wellness and behavioral health: