The Traumatic Brain Injury That Changed Gary Busey’s Life- Pt. 1 with Gary Busey

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In a series focused on head trauma and brain injury, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are joined by Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Busey. Gary describes the brain injury he suffered in 1988 from a horrific motorcycle accident, as well as how his life’s challenges have given him a unique perspective and method of defining what means the most to him.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.

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Dr Daniel Amen: So welcome, we are so excited to have Gary Busey and his partner Stephanie with us for the whole week of podcasts that we're going to talk about Gary's story, we're going to talk about Gary's new book, Buseyisms: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Tana Amen: It's Gary's bible.

Dr Daniel Amen: I couldn't be more grateful that you are here.

Gary Busey: Me too, it's a miracle or blessing to be here for me and Stephanie and ...

Stephanie: Thank you.

Gary Busey: Without Stephanie, I probably wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here.

Stephanie: You definitely wouldn't be here.

Gary Busey: Okay, she puts it in the right way.

Dr Daniel Amen: Definitely wouldn't be here.

Gary Busey: And the miracle or the blessing I received from Dr. Daniel Amen is beyond the description you can give that on earth because I didn't know what happened to my brain after I had the motorcycle accident on December 4th, 1988 and Dr Amen told me, your skull is here and it doesn't move but the brain goes whack, whack, whack, whack inside of it.

I hit here, my skull was split all the way up to the top, I had a hole in my skull as big as a 50 cent piece and that's where I determined the injury to be but the injury was over here and this part of my brain is dead but I've chosen the word, dormant because I talk to my brain every day and my brain talks to me.

Your best friend is your brain and what the brain has in it that you don't realize is your best, best, best, best friend is your mind and, M-I-N-D stands for, Making It New Daily.

Tana Amen: Ooh, I like that.

Stephanie: Isn't that a good one?

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr Daniel Amen: And Buseyisms, your new book coming out September 4th, is loaded with these acronyms or Buseyisms and Stephanie actually wrote the book by interviewing ...

Gary Busey: 10 months.

Dr Daniel Amen: Gary.

Stephanie: I'm the ghost writer, it's all his words but, you know, he would tell his stories and go off on a tangent so I'm the one who deciphered everything and made it cohesive.

Tana Amen: Put it together.

Dr Daniel Amen: And you did it in a beautiful way.

Stephanie: That's so sweet.

Dr Daniel Amen: The book is inspiring, it is easy to get through, it's hysterical.

Tana Amen: Can I say something? I first saw you in the Buddy Holly story and it was awesome, I was pretty young when I saw this movie and I've seen you in so many movies as most of our listeners and watchers have and, you're amazing.

And, you know, my daughters going into Hollywood and we see so many people from Hollywood but what we don't often see, is the spiritual component and I'm so excited to see this in your book.

So, you've actually titled this, your bible and I love this, that's your acronym for your book.

Gary Busey: Basic Instructions, it's not an acronym, it's a Buseyism.

Tana Amen: I love it though.

But it's really a spiritual book. You're very spiritual.

Gary Busey: Yeah, I've been the other side twice. Once death, after the motorcycle wreck and the brain surgery. I was surrounded by angels in an unlimited space of time but there's no time distance or thought on the other side, it's all feeling and it's a beautiful place to be to find out who you really are.

Dr Daniel Amen: And before his head injury so, you know, as I read the book from a psychiatrist standpoint, it sounds like clearly you had ADD as a child, what was the one story where your mother actually had to take the play pen and turn it upside down to keep you in?

Stephanie: She captured you.

Dr Daniel Amen: But that wouldn't work and then you played football in high school ...

Gary Busey: High school, junior high, high school, junior college, college and university. When I was playing at university, Oklahoma State University, I hurt my knee, my knee took me out of my athletic scholarship so I moved to drama but here's a blessing of the injury, it kept me out of the Vietnam war.

Tana Amen: Interesting.

Gary Busey: Thank you.

Dr Daniel Amen: And it kept you out of the pro's which would have damaged your brain even more.

Gary Busey: I don't know how much more damage it could receive.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yes that's true after the accident.

So, having ADD, playing football, you had an acronym. What is it, S-T-S?

Gary Busey: S-T-S, yes it's a Buseyism and, I was a linebacker and they would have blocking dummies lined up, one, two, three and, on the other side of the blocking dummies you'd come up pulling guard and behind him would be a halfback with the ball. The pulling guard picked which dummies he would go through, the blocking dummies, big pads of canvas and I would have to move, get the guard away from me and hit the back and I was so quick in those little steps I could get past the guard, then I would hit the halfback right here with my forehead. Boom. Then I'd slide my helmet up and [inaudible 00:06:34] his teeth and when he fell down I'd help hin up and say, "I'll be right back."

Tana Amen: Oh no.

Gary Busey: Well the S-T-S means, Snap The Sternum.

Tana Amen: Oh my gosh.

Gary Busey: Here real hard.

Dr Daniel Amen: And you were also ...

Gary Busey: Do you want me to show you?

Dr Daniel Amen: No.

Tana Amen: No. Please don't.

Dr Daniel Amen: Okay so before the accident, ADD, playing football then drama which worked out really well for you and you were very persistent, if you read the book, and you had really great training.

There was some drug issues and it was before the motorcycle accident, right?

Gary Busey: Oh ...

Stephanie: Yeah.

Gary Busey: Yeah.

Stephanie: Before and after.

Dr Daniel Amen: Before and after.

Stephanie: Before and then he had a long period of sobriety and then he had a really quick relapse but the relapse was after the motorcycle accident.

Gary Busey: After the motorcycle.

Dr Daniel Amen: What changed for you after the accident?

Gary Busey: Oh, the understanding that life is so special and L-I-F-E stands for, Living In Forever Eternity. The word death stands for, D-E-A-T-H, Don't Expect A Tragedy Here. Because I've been to the other side twice and it's a great trip, a guide takes you, you don't feel a thing, you don't see a thing, you don't feel a thing, you are just there in that spiritual place of nothingness but everything is ... You feel like there's nothing here but no, everything is there and you're in a place of achievement and accomplishment and you get to know who you are.

Tana Amen: That's so cool.

Gary Busey: I found myself very happy with me and, the angels, I was this long and that wide and that's your soul and your soul is housed in the column of your spine and my soul was there and the lights were this big, all around me in the air, they were orange, gold, magenta, amber and three of them came up to my essence and the light to the left was abalone mother pearl and spoke to me in an androgynous voice and thought and it said, "You're going in the right direction, you're having a lot of good things happening to you but what you need, because of your responsibility to mankind, you need to look for help in the spiritual realm. You can come with us now or return to your body and continue your destiny. It's your choice."

And, when you hear the truth when you're on the other side you go right to it and the word truth, T-R-U-T-H stands for, Taking Real Understanding To Heart and your heart holds the answers ...

Tana Amen: I love that.

Gary Busey: To every question you don't know you have and your heart is the face of your spirit.

Tana Amen: That's lovely.

Gary Busey: These are gifts I've been given from a supernatural spiritual realm.

Tana Amen: You told me another one before we turned the camera on that I really want everyone watching and listening to hear and you told me the one about faith and simple, you told me two of them.

Can you repeat those?

Gary Busey: Faith. F-A-I-T-H stands for, Fantastic Adventures Entrusting Him. The word, let me give you two more. Hope, H-O-P-E that stands for, Heavenly Offerings Prevail Eternally which they do, they do, they do. Just have to look up and catch the miracle and wrap around you, a miracle will be yourself.

Other word, simple. S-I-M-P-L-E stands for, See It Manifesting, Precious, Loving Energy.

Tana Amen: Oh wow.

Gary Busey: And simple turns to sweetness, sweetness turns to a hand contact, hand contact turns into an eye contact and the feelings you have when you're meeting a spirit and soul that you've known for 3,000 years, you're meeting your soul mate. Your past life regressions come to you in thought and feeling not in words and descriptions.

Dr Daniel Amen: So after the motorcycle accident which was without a helmet, which was wicked, you were hospitalized, they actually ended up putting you on a psych ward because they couldn't control your behavior.

Gary Busey: Let me express that, that's at Cedar Sinai where they took me with the brain surgery and a male orderly came up to my brother, David Busey and said, "You've got to get him out of here, they have him chained onto a metal table without clothes on and they have him under 12 layers of drugs."

Tana Amen: Which is what we do. I'm a neurosurgical ICU nurse and that's not uncommon.

Gary Busey: Well, let me tell you this, that's got to change.

Tana Amen: I agree with you.

Gary Busey: Because you're not considering at all the patients heart and soul and spirit.

Tana Amen: I totally agree with you.

Gary Busey: They moved me to Daniel Freedman which is not there anymore. Dr Barry Ludwig and Dr Roger Lye were my doctors in the hospital.

Stephanie: Right and they took him off the drugs and let him go through that agitation period.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah. One of my favorite stories in the book is, because Gary's an actor, is they actually let him act being a doctor on the ward.

Stephanie: That was his wife's idea. She was very very wonderful to help him through this because they were separated when he had the accident and she came to his side and it was her idea and she said, "He's an actor, he needs something to do, let him go with you on rounds and tell him he's preparing for his next role."

Gary Busey: And give him a smart to wear a clipboard.

Tana Amen: That's amazing.

Dr Daniel Amen: I think it's brilliant.

Gary Busey: I would probably go in there and, going through the drawers of the patients ...

Stephanie: This was how his first Buseyism was ever created.

Gary Busey: Yeah, I realized the socks were all messed up and not in order so I straightened them all up in even, nice, balanced rows ...

Tana Amen: That's funny.

Gary Busey: And said that's really neat and neat to me stood for, Nice, Exciting and Tight.

Tana Amen: That's funny. That's funny.

Gary Busey: It could be a drive in movie teenager-ism too.

Dr Daniel Amen: What did you and your loved ones ...

Gary Busey: How you doing out there?

We'll get you some popcorn later.

Dr Daniel Amen: What did you and your loved ones notice was different about you after the accident? And, we'll show people with your permission, of course, what his brain looks like. I mean you can see the hurt.

Gary Busey: Traumatic brain injury is what I have and it's harder on the family than it is patients.

Tana Amen: Oh it's terrible, I promise you, it's terrible.

For people that love you, it's heartbreaking.

Gary Busey: The best think you do at a funeral and with a person with traumatic brain injury is celebrate life.

Tana Amen: I told my family I will come back from the dead and haunt them if they go and play sad somber music. I want them to play Def Leppard, bury me in my gee and throw a party.

Stephanie: Yes.

Gary Busey: Def Leppard?

Tana Amen: Yes.

Gary Busey: [inaudible 00:13:52].

Tana Amen: Yes.

Gary Busey: I don't know.

Tana Amen: The point is I want them to party like rock stars.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: All right, lets get back to the topic. What happened, what differences did you notice and what differences did your family notice after the head injury?

Gary Busey: Oh, you don't know anything when you have a head injury.

Stephanie: He went back to work like he was healed and for 25, or what, 30 years didn't really even consider he had any issues at all.

Gary Busey: No. My brain surgery was over, I had recovered ...

Tana Amen: But they don't tell you that you're going to have a problem.

Stephanie: He didn't know.

Tana Amen: Right.

Gary Busey: Wait a minute. My brain surgery's over and they give me an occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical fitness therapy and, they thought I had ADD but I proved them wrong on that and they realized that Gary Busey was born with the energy of 10 men who have normal jobs.

I'm still with that energy and I'm 73, this is my 73rd trip around the sun and there's no stopping for me, I just keep going.

Tana Amen: That's awesome.

Dr Daniel Amen: And after, was Point Break the movie ...

Gary Busey: That was the first movie I did ...

Dr Daniel Amen: You did after your head injury?

Gary Busey: Yeah, Point Break.

Stephanie: Wasn't it Predator 2 and then Point Break?

Gary Busey: No.

Stephanie: No?

Gary Busey: Point Break, 1991.

Stephanie: Okay.

Dr Daniel Amen: You were great in that.

So you didn't notice any changes in your memory, your focus, your acting ability.

Gary Busey: No, I was better than I was before the accident, that's how I felt because I'm alive, I'm out here doing it, hey, what do you want to know?

Tana Amen: Right.

Gary Busey: I've got all the answers.

Dr Daniel Amen: You had been to the other side and many people tell me when they've been to the other side, their level of anxiety goes down, their depression goes down because they ....

Gary Busey: That's a resource that your brain has of the part of you that loves to be in fear and the word fear, F-E-A-R that stands for, False Evidence Appearing Real so, the person in fear creates it themselves. Like the word doubt, D-O-U-B-T that stands for, Debating On Understanding Bewildering Thoughts.

Well when you debate with yourself, there's never a winner.

Tana Amen: Right.

Gary Busey: No winners, got to be free of that, free of your own identity, free with your own identity.

Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of The Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook we give away every month.