Quick Facts

  • Insight and self-awareness refer to a person’s ability to reflect on their own thoughts and actions
  • Lack of insight is one of the most difficult and frustrating changes for individuals to cope with following brain injury
  • Can be upsetting for caregivers when the individual behaves inappropriately without being aware that there is anything wrong with their actions

What does it
look like?

  • Individual may not be aware of any problems or challenges
  • Individual may disagree with others about their difficulties and refuse to talk about them
  • Individual may not be able to understand their own or other people’s feelings and behaviours

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • An inability to assess and monitor one’s performance and abilities
  • Concentration and memory challenges as these reduce insight
  • Inability to set goals and put strategies into action

Possible complications

  • May not understand their difficulties or why rehabilitation is necessary
  • May not understand how their cognitive difficulties are impacting family and friends, activities of daily living, driving, and general life in the community
  • Inability to self-monitor due to limited self-awareness which can cause challenging behaviours
  • May not understand legal matters, safety, and employment issues

What can we do?

  • Provide non-judgmental feedback on the individual’s actions but avoid these if they are angry, tired or frustrated
  • Use clear and direct language
  • Avoid arguments
  • Direct attention to any improvements, strengths or changes instead of focusing on the difficulties
  • Encourage the individual to analyze their own actions and performance and to provide feedback on their own performance
  • Assist the individual in setting realistic and achievable goals
  • Encourage rehabilitation by linking achievement of goals or rehabilitation to personal goals (i.e. returning to work, and driving)
  • Minimize risks, such as driving, cooking, etc.
  • Consider accessing counselling and support groups for the individual and yourself
  • Educate yourself and others about the concern regarding lack of insight

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.