ACK! I put it in the sidebar a while ago, but I never formally announced that we’re going to read Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture for November discussion. I know, I know, for those reading from small devices, you’re probably not seeing the sidebar announcement. So how about this: we’ll start the discussion a little late to give folks time to read/listen to it. We’ll call it our Holiday Discussion, which I think is especially appropriate for that book, since many of us will be gift-shopping. So there it is: We’re reading Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell next. I really hope you’ll read it and talk with me about it because last time I read it, I had oodles of questions.
Cathy Crimmins, in Where is the Mango Princess?, discusses confabulation in people who experience traumatic brain injury (TBI). TheFreeDictionary.com defines confabulation as to fill in gaps in one’s memory with fabrications that one believes to be facts. This is yet another example of how the brain works to make sense of the environment, another example that fascinates me.
I recall being taught that we actually have blind spots in our field of vision. We don’t see gaps in the visual field; instead, or brain fills in the gaps to make the visual field continuous. In like manner, a person, when given glasses that shift everything in the visual field over several inches, will learn to compensate. Without having to think, the person will begin to reach for objects by automatically shifting their extended arm. Then, when the glasses are removed, they will continue to shift their reach, even though they’re no longer receiving the altered image. They need to acclimate back to the original data. The brain has adjusted to the altered input, then needs to readjust once the input is altered again.
I mentioned in a previous post that I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending a man who recently suffered a TBI. Let’s call my friend Stan. Stan and I were talking about the incident that caused his injury. He told me the story of being in a bar in downtown Washington, D.C., when a young thuggish fellow began to give him a hard time. The thug wanted to “take it outside”. Stan said that at some point during the altercation outside the bar, he fell to the ground, hitting his head and causing major damage.
Sounds plausible, right?
But the entire time Stan was telling me the background of his TBI, his sister and brother-in-law (also my friends), were standing behind him vehemently shaking their heads No. Apparently he alters this story when talking about the event, each time wholeheartedly believing his story to be true. And in his mind, it is true! He fully believes that these are the events that took place. In reality, the friends that Stan was with have provided a full history of the actual fall. There was alcohol involved. Stan had been drinking, but was not overly drunk. The group of friends was walking down Wisconsin Avenue when Stan simply stumbled and fell, striking his head. There weren’t any thugs at all. No one gave anyone a hard time. Simply a stumble.
Stan’s brain is still healing. He suffered a fractured skull and bleeding of the brain. While his brain is healing, it works hard to make sense of what happened. Confabulation is the result.