18 August, 2016


Hemineglect is a wierd mental disorder, where, after brain damage in specific locations, people ignore things on one side.
The most interesting example is when asked to copy a simple picture, they omit one side, usually the left, as in this famous picture:
"Trouble In Mind" 2012, p.77, OUP, New York
The most interesting thing, to me, is how they justify this. When asked why she did not draw the fence in the picture above:
"I suppose I could if you really want me to, but it is sure to blow down in the next wind!"
One then wonders: patients are aware of the omissions. It seems more than a blank or ignoring their left side, it's like they are actively avoiding things. Are they subconsciously thinking fence = bad? What if you asked them to draw a picture left-right symmetric about the middle? What if you put a mirror on their left, reflecting the image on the right? (these 2 scenarios should generate the same image).

But I'm more interested in the rationalisation bit, which I don't think is related to hemineglect. In fact I think this is how the brain normally works, just that it works so well that we don't notice it. It seems related to cognitive dissonance, a relation nobody has made before, from a cursory search I just did. Consider how easily memories are altered and implanted. With doctored pictures and testimony from others, people can be convinced - can convince themselves - that things that didn't happen, happened. It's also how we justify our beliefs. It could be how we feel we are "one" and in control of the multiple thought processes in our heads. It might even have something to do with consciousness.

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