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What You Don’t Know About Traumatic Brain Injuries with Jerri Sher

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

Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen sit down with Emmy Award winning director Jerri Sher to talk about the creative process for her latest film, “Quiet Explosions: Healing The Brain”.


Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Daniel Amen, MD:
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain for more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Hey everybody, we have a very special week for you. We have a very special friend and the critically important topic. I think traumatic brain injury is a major cause of psychiatric problems that nobody knows about.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Daniel Amen, MD:
And to help us spread this message. We have award-winning filmmaker, Jerri Sher. Jerri is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, a member of the Directors Guild since 1998. She has completed 22 film and television projects. She wrote directed and produced Quiet Explosions: Healing The Brain, a new documentary that’s out about traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress in veterans, athletes and civilians. The film won a best documentary feature at the know-how Cinefest and the LILAC Award at this SpIFF International Film Festival was released November 10th, 2020 on Amazon and Vimeo by Cinema Libra Studio. I’m in it. Some of my patients are in it. If you haven’t seen it, we would just, [inaudible [00:02:22] for you to see it and review it. So, hi, Jerri.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Welcome.
Jerri Sher:
Thank you so much. It’s really an honor to be here, Dr. Amen and Tana.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Absolutely.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So tell us how you got involved in.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
[crosstalk [00:02:03]8] No, what makes you choose this?
Daniel Amen, MD:
traumatic brain injury as a filmmaker.
Jerri Sher:
It’s interesting. I’m not a doctor nor I’m a healer. It’s very interesting that somebody contacted me, who knew me when I was 16 years old in Fall River, Massachusetts, believe it or not when I was a babysitter, earning extra money. And this girl, Beth is an editor for books and she was working up in Maine and just finished the book by Andrew Marr and Anna Marr, which is tales from the blast factory. And she said she had been following my career my whole life, and I had no idea. And she reached out and said, “You know, this book is amazing and I know you only work on documentaries that’s going to help society. I think you should make the movie of this. So can I put you in touch with this guy?” I said, “Well, you know what? Everybody tells me, they have the best book. You have to send me the galleys.”
So I read the galleys, I was very taken with it and she put me in touch with this guy, Andrew Marr, from Texas. He flew right out to see me and I was leaving on a big trip, a big… actually a big job in Australia, New Zealand in two weeks. And so he said, “I want you to do this.” And he looked at my work and he said, “You have the rights to the story.” So I said, “I’ll only do it under one condition, Andrew. It has to be a third military, a third athletes and a third civilians because traumatic brain injury is so important to the universe, not end segment of people.” And he said, “Yes.”, and our journey began.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
That’s awesome.
Daniel Amen, MD:
And how long did it take you to make the movie?
Jerri Sher:
Three years.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Wow.
Jerri Sher:
A lot of that time, was getting the funding in the beginning. So our shooting was about 9 months, 9 to 12 months and our post, which is the editing process and everything was about a year.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Daniel Amen, MD:
Wow. It is such a powerful movie.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
That’s really great.
Daniel Amen, MD:
And toward the end of it, you and I connected, I guess somebody told you about our work and, and it was just so fun to be part of the process. You know, the work we do at Amen clinics, we’ve known traumatic brain injury is a major cause of psychiatric problems, anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, and nobody knows about it because most psychiatrists actually never walk at the brand. And so we were thrilled to be part of it. Can you tell us one or two of the stories in the documentary that meant the most to you? I know we scanned out on your husband, so I know that must’ve been important.
Jerri Sher:
Well they’re all extremely important and special to me because each one is so different and so unique, but I feel so grateful that we interviewed you at the very end of the process, because believe it or not, that was the best way for it to all congeal and come together. Especially since you treated Shawn Dollar, our surfer, who is so dear to me. And he’s the only person in the film that had been treated by all three doctors, Dr. Gordon and Dr. Simmons and Dr. Shear. So, and then also the fact that you brought me Anthony Davis, who was the running back for the football NFL player. That was very special also and I think in this process, it’s very important that you sort of interview people at the right time in the process, because if I had interviewed you first, I wouldn’t have gotten such a fantastic magnanimous story.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jerri Sher:
My favorite person, they’re all favorite to me in certain ways, but extremely taken with Ben because he, he just came to me in a very odd way. And he was a Marine who was ready to kill himself, put the gun in his mouth and said he was going to shoot himself. And then he just saw his mother looking over his grave which was pretty extraordinary. The fact that my husband got to see you became like a miracle Alan had surgery when he was 50. So that was like more than two decades ago in 1998 and lost his short-term memory and had all of the exact same symptoms as all the TBI and PTSD guys and girls, he was ready to kill himself because he had, he had no knowledge of his children’s names. Everything was gone from being in surgery 12 hours.
So they saved his heart, but they really messed up his brain. And this happens to more than 50% of men who have open-heart surgery at the age of 55 or less.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jerri Sher:
More or less 50. So when he started working with you and seeing the brain scans, he’s getting better and better and better. So we’re very, very grateful. And that’s not why I originally made the movie, but it was sort of a bonus for us as a family.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Well when you do good, often good things happen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I love this because I love what you did, Jerri, because when you made this about really everybody out there. So we see this all the time and I end up adopting people just because this is what happens, right? When you do what you do, when you do what we do. I have a very similar story where I adopted this kid who was a marine and had a massive brain injury, watched all three of his friends, die-
Daniel Amen, MD:
[crosstalk [00:08:09] How do you find him?
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
At a survival training.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Tell me why you’re going to… don’t I take good care of you?
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
You always say nothing bad can happen. And we just went through a pandemic and I have a survival room full of stuff to survive pandemics. So I will never, ever not do this. No. So anyways, I took my daughter to this three-day survival training. We were ready to build our own shelter and purifier on water and start fires from nothing. It was great. It’s great training. But he, he started doing that after it really sort of saved him after being a Marine. And he now is they ran over an IED and his vehicle exploded. He was the only one that survived. He watched his three friends die and I was hearing his story and same thing had a gun in his mouth. And I was like, you have to come to the clinic.
So we have them come to the clinic and, and long story short, he is now just in this amazing place. His life is thriving. He’s married. It’s just not possible for this to get better. It’s possible for these things to turn around. And these stories are just so heartbreaking. So I just, I hand it to you for really making this about everybody and not just those couple of professional athletes.
Jerri Sher:
Thank you. Well, I have a wonderful story to tell you, Dr. Amen, that this happened yesterday. I talked to Annie. She is my Navy gal who was from Texas and she was treated by Dr. Gordon originally. And she was very severe. The Navy threw her out, but she had been raped twice and they crazy. And they put her in a psych ward. It was a horrific story.
She’s been on CNN and everything. So she called me yesterday and she told me that she wanted to thank me for putting her in touch with the Amen Clinic that just opened in Dallas. And she’s on a path now with your clinic. And she said, she’s doing so well. And she said to me, I only wish I had started there. And I telling everyone, if you have a problem, start with the Amen Clinic and then go to these other modalities. So I just thought it was very amazing that here I was going to be on your show today. And she called me yesterday to say, “Please tell Dr. Amen, that I am grateful that he opened in Dallas and I am now one of the patients.”
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
That’s so-
Daniel Amen, MD:
[inaudible [00:10:27] right to me Jerri, that would be awesome for me to be connected with her. Yeah.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
… that’s so great.
Jerri Sher:
She has baby now, 17 months old. So her whole life completely turned around and you know, our first shoot for this movie was when she got her MBA at the university of Texas in Arlington. We went there to shoot that because I felt like that would be her climax of her story. And sure enough, that was our very first shoot day.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Oh, that’s amazing.
Daniel Amen, MD:
It’s really amazing. And when we come back, we’re going to talk about the devastation of not getting this traded. There was just a story in the paper this morning about a former NFL player that murdered five people in South Carolina. And my first thought was the impact of being hit in the head thousands of times. Stay with us, we’re going to come back. We’re here with Jerri Sher award-winning filmmaker and the writer, director, and producer of Quiet Explosions that you can stream now on Amazon or Vimeo, stay with us.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe. So always know when there’s a new episode and while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast. If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com for more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.