Friday, September 14, 2007

I Am Brain Damaged!

I am sure that some of you may have been aware of this fact for some time now, but I am just now beginning to come to grips with it's reality. What has caused this sudden realization after 25 years? A book called blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. I am only just beginning, but Malcolm Gladwell is explaining how your subconscious mind can figure things out faster and sometimes more accurately than your conscious mind, allowing us to make decisions in the blink of an eye instead of thinking things through in a logical and rational manner. Sometimes something "just feels right." He is careful to explain that there are ways we can blind even our subconsciousness, though, so it's not like our subconscious mind will always "tell the truth."

As many of you know, I have struggled with decision making my whole life. It is quite difficult for me to decide even the simplest thing without first weighing out the pros, cons, and consequences of any given choice. Gladwell talks about the research of a neurologist named Antonio Damasio who studied patients with damage to a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which lies behind the nose.
"The ventromedial area plays a critical role in decision making. It works out contingencies and relationships and sorts through the mountain of information we get from the outside world, prioritizing it and putting flags on things that demand our immediate attention. People with damage to their ventromedial area are perfectly rational. They can be highly intelligent and functional, but they lack judgment."
That pretty much sums me up! Highly intelligent (j/k!), mostly functional, rational, etc. So the reason why I have to look at every menu item before making a selection or why it takes me hours (or days) to play a game of chess (think of all the options and consequences associated with each move!) is simply because I am brain damaged!


Officer Leeroy said...

Now you have an out anytime anything you do ever goes wrong, just blame it on your brain damagedness. Hopefully it isn't hereditary :) Though Annalee doesn't sit and think things out, she just screams when she's in a bind.

janet said...

What an interesting concept! I look at it more (in your case, anyway) that you are a "high achiever" and want to make sure that whatever you do is the best. Yes, even in ordering at a restaurant! You're a doll!

Lindsay said...

I must be brain damaged, too. I also can't for the life of me make simple decisions without weighing all the consequences. I end up just taking the "second opinion" route -- get someone else to decide for me.

Is that bad? :)

Interesting idea, though. I might have to check out the book.