More on Anosognosic

>> Thursday, June 24, 2010

I am really liking this series on anosognosia (which is, apparently, the inability to acknowledge one has a disability) in the New York Times. There was the one I mentioned Monday (talking about people too incompetent to recognize their incompetence). Then, on Tuesday, there was one that dabbled with hysteria and women (historically speaking - I bet the Mother knows all about this), which was a little less my type of thing. It's irritating enough when "learned" men go on and on about what's wrong with women. When women play into it (whether deliberately or otherwise, well, I hate it). That goes for me with women who "play dumb" today, and there out there. I have yet to understand why a woman would be interested in impressing or pleasing a man who would prefer she be not so smart. But I digress.

However, Wednesday, there was an installment talking about how this phenomena might have influenced our involvement (or lack thereof) in the League of Nations and World War II. Heck, I'd never known that about Woodrow Wilson, that he had had a stroke at such a critical time or that his wife and aides worked so hard to ensure he didn't lose Presidential power as he recovered (somewhat).

Then, this morning, I read about how belief is not a monolithic thing and some speculation about how part of one's brain is dedicated to maintaining the status quo, furthering one's beliefs, and another part (the right brain) is devoted to questioning that status quo and challenging one's perceptions. Wow, that was a cool idea. Speculation isn't fact, but wouldn't that be an interesting premise to pursue, that one's critical thinking skills are tied one's right brain. Or maybe we already knew that. Anyway, cool reading.

Anyway, he finishes up talking about self-deception. Seriously, I enjoyed reading the whole thing.


  • The Mother

    Oh, yeah. The Salpetriere. This is the subject of today's post, coincidentally.

    Babinski, at least, realized what Charcot did not, which was that "hysteria", at least as defined at the Salpetriere, was a performance, not a disease.

    Does that mean that all hysteria was in the woman's head? Or that all Bablinski's partial paralyses were conversion disorders (in modern parlance)?

    No. Hysteria was a catch all phrase used in the days of the "black box" brain and nervous system. So it wasn't one disorder. It may have been hundreds, some organic, some not.

    Here's the problem with looking at Charcot and Babinski and their contemporaries, and in fact, every premodern era in any science:

    Anosognosia applies. They did not know that they did not know. Period.

  • Jeff King

    Thx for the links... great reads.

  • Kathy

    OMG. This is hilarious (from the first NYT article you referenced):

    "If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity."

    Sad, but true. I know people who will never know the level of their own incompetence. All can give them is my pity.

  • Relax Max

    Frankly, I have never understood agnostics. Either you believe or you don't.

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