Search Results for “paralysis”

February 23, 2011

Analysis Paralysis

the fox and the cat

The term ‘analysis paralysis‘ refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or ‘perfect’ solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

In Aesop’s Fables’ ‘The Fox and the Cat,’ the fox has ‘hundreds of ways of escaping’ while the cat has ‘only one.’ When they heard the hounds approaching, the cat scampered up a tree while ‘the Fox in his confusion was caught up by the hounds.’ The fable ends with the moral, ‘Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.’

March 17, 2016


thats what she said

david brent by Anne D Bernstein

Witzelsucht [vit-sel-zuhkt] (from the German ‘witzeln,’ meaning ‘to joke or wisecrack,’ and ‘sucht,’ meaning ‘addiction or yearning’) is a set of rare neurological symptoms characterized by a tendency to make puns, or tell inappropriate jokes or pointless stories in socially inappropriate situations. A less common symptom is hypersexuality, the tendency to make sexual comments at inappropriate times or situations. Patients do not understand that their behavior is abnormal, therefore are nonresponsive to others’ reactions. This disorder is most commonly seen in patients with frontal lobe damage, particularly right frontal lobe tumors or trauma.

Those with the condition often show no emotional reaction to humor, whether produced by themselves or others. This lack of responsiveness is due to dissociation between their cognitive and affective responses to humorous stimuli. That is, even when a patient understands that a joke is funny (based on quantitative brain activity), they do not respond with laughter, or even a smile. While they have grasped the cognitive basis of humor, they do not affectively respond. This also considered a cognitive component of empathy, affecting ability to take the perspective of others; hence why patients often do not respond to humor produced by other people.

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May 27, 2015

Lourdes Effect

holy toast by David Hayward

blobsquatch by Guy Edwards

The term Lourdes [loordzeffect was coined by Belgian philosopher and skeptic Etienne Vermeersch to describe the observation that supernatural powers never manifest themselves in a completely unambiguous fashion. According to Vermeersch, should the miraculous power of Lourdes actually exist there would be no reason to think that it would be more difficult for the Virgin Mary or God to reattach a severed arm than to cure paralysis or blindness.

The accounts and photos of, for instance, the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti lack reliability and clarity due to a similar effect. Vermeersch uses this term to mock what he calls the selective and uncritical approach to miracles, or the frivolous attribution of supernatural gifts to human beings.

April 9, 2015


Captain Haddock

Coprolalia [kop-ruh-ley-lee-uh] is involuntary swearing or the involuntary utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Coprolalia comes from the Greek ‘kopros’ meaning ‘feces’ and ‘lalia,’ ‘to talk.’ The term is often used as a clinomorphism (a simplification or amplification of the term for a medical condition), with ‘compulsive profanity’ inaccurately referred to as being Tourette syndrome (an inherited neurological disorder characterized by involuntary speech and movements). Related terms are ‘copropraxia,’ performing obscene or forbidden gestures, and ‘coprographia,’ making obscene writings or drawings.

Coprolalia encompasses words and phrases that are culturally taboo or generally unsuitable for acceptable social use, when used out of context. The term is not used to describe contextual swearing. It is usually expressed out of social or emotional context, and may be spoken in a louder tone or different cadence or pitch than normal conversation. It can be a single word, or complex phrases. A person with coprolalia may repeat the word mentally rather than saying it out loud; these subvocalizations can be very distressing.

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November 9, 2014

The Caine Mutiny



The Caine Mutiny‘ is a 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by American author Herman Wouk. The book grew out of Wouk’s personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific in World War II and deals with, among other things, the moral and ethical decisions made at sea by the captains of ships. The mutiny of the title is legalistic, not violent, and takes place during a historic typhoon in December 1944. The court-martial that results provides the dramatic climax to the plot.

The story is told through the eyes of Willis Seward ‘Willie’ Keith, an affluent, callow young man who signs up for midshipman school with the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army during World War II. After barely surviving a series of misadventures that earn him the highest number of demerits in the history of the school, he is commissioned and assigned to the destroyer minesweeper USS Caine, an obsolete warship converted from a World War I-era destroyer.

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November 3, 2014

Near-death Experience

heaven help us by Alex Eben Meyer

Near-death experiences (NDE) are associated with several common phenomena such as feelings of detachment from the body, levitation, serenity, security, warmth, dissolution, and bright light. These sensations are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or has been very close to death. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of reported NDEs has increased. According to a 1992 Gallup poll, approximately eight million Americans claim to have had a near-death experience. Popular interest in the topic was initially sparked by psychiatrist Raymond Moody’s 1975 book ‘Life After Life,’ in which he interviewed 150 people who had undergone NDEs.

In 1981, the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) was founded and the following year began publishing the ‘Journal of Near-Death Studies,’ the only peer-reviewed journal in the field. Research from neuroscience considers the NDE to be a hallucination resulting from one or more of several conditions including cerebral anoxia (insufficient oxygen to the brain), hypercarbia (elevated carbon dioxide in the blood), or damage to the temporal lobes (which are responsible for giving meaning to events). Spiritual thinkers and an parapsychologists have long pointed to NDEs as evidence for an afterlife and mind-body dualism.

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June 24, 2014


peter principle


Antipatterns are common practices that initially appear to be beneficial, but ultimately result in bad consequences that outweigh hoped-for advantages. The term, coined in 1995 by programmer Andrew Koenig, was inspired by a book, ‘Design Patterns,’ in which the authors highlighted a number of practices in software development that they considered to be highly reliable and effective.

The term was popularized three years later by the book ‘AntiPatterns,’ which extended its use beyond the field of software design and into general social interaction and may be used informally to refer to any commonly reinvented but bad solution to a problem. Examples include analysis paralysis (over-analyzing a situation while indefinitely delaying making a decision), cargo cult programming (the ritual inclusion of code that serves no real purpose), death march (pressing ahead on a project members feel is destined to fail), groupthink (a desire for harmony in the group results in an irrational decision-making outcome), and vendor lock-in (preventing customers from seeking alternatives).

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April 14, 2014

Ego Reduction

shrink by james jean

The concept of ego reduction is predicated on the use of Sigmund Freud’s concept of the ego to describe the conscious adult self; and broadly describes the deflating of an over-inflated or egotistical sense of oneself – a curtailment of what Irish philosopher Iris Murdoch called ‘the anxious avaricious tentacles of the self.’

Among other contexts, ego reduction has been seen as a goal in Alcoholics Anonymous; as a part of BDSM play, providing a means of entering ‘subspace’ (a state of submissiveness); and as a way of attaining religious humility and freedom from desire in Buddhism.

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November 15, 2012

Lucid Dream

reality checks


A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. The term was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden (1860–1932). In a lucid dream, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over their participation within the dream or be able to manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment. Lucid dreams can be realistic and vivid. It is shown that there are higher amounts of beta waves (normally associated with waking consciousness) experienced by lucid dreamers, hence there is an increased amount of activity in the parietal lobes making lucid dreaming a conscious process.

The first book to recognize the scientific potential of lucid dreams was Celia Green’s 1968 study ‘Lucid Dreams.’ Green analyzed the main characteristics of such dreams, reviewing previously published literature on the subject and incorporating new data from subjects of her own. She concluded that lucid dreams were a category of experience quite distinct from ordinary dreams, and predicted that they would turn out to be associated with rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Green was also the first to link lucid dreams to the phenomenon of false awakenings (a convincing dream about awakening from sleep).

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September 27, 2012

Henny Penny

Chicken Little

Henny Penny, also known as ‘Chicken Licken’ or ‘Chicken Little,’ is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase ‘The sky is falling!’ features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.

The story is listed in the Aarne–Thompson tale type index (a listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales) as type 20C, which includes international examples of folktales that make light of paranoia and mass hysteria.

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September 20, 2012

Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman

Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology whose purpose was summed up in 1998 by psychologists Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: ‘We believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise, which achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving individuals, families, and communities.’ Positive psychologists seek ‘to find and nurture genius and talent’, and ‘to make normal life more fulfilling,’ not simply to treat mental illness.

The field is intended to complement, not to replace traditional psychology. It does not seek to deny the importance of studying how things go wrong, but rather to emphasize the importance of using the scientific method to determine how things go right. This field brings attention to the possibility that focusing only on the disorder itself would result in a partial concept of the patient’s condition.

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September 5, 2012

Conversion Disorder

arc-de-cercle by Mari Kretz

Conversion disorder is where patients suffer apparently neurological symptoms, such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits, but without a neurological cause. It is thought that these problems arise in response to difficulties in the patient’s life, and conversion is considered a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV).

Formerly known as ‘hysteria’ (unmanageable emotional excesses), the disorder has arguably been known for millennia, though it came to greatest prominence at the end of the 19th century, when the neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud and psychiatrist Pierre Janet focused their studies on the subject. Before Freud’s studies on hysteria, people who suffered from physical disabilities that were not caused by any physical impairments, known as hysterical patients, were believed to be malingering (faking illness), suffering from weak nerves, or just suffering from meaningless disturbances. The term ‘conversion’ has its origins in Freud’s doctrine that anxiety is ‘converted’ into physical symptoms.

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