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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Phantom empathy

I have a theory.

I know that I fail to understand people and their attitudes and intentions
on a regular basis, but it seems to me that I always think I do
understand. Intellectually, I know I'm not understanding, but
intuitively, if you will, I feel like I know what people feel or intend.

My theory is that there's a "space" in my perceptions where my brain might
normally have such understanding, and failing to get input from that
functionality, that would normally inform me of intentions and feelings
based on perception of body language, eye contact, or tone of voice &c,
creates those perceptions out of whole cloth.

I compare this to the "phantom pain" that amputation victims feel --
there's no limb there, but the amputee feels like it -is- there -- or the
lights blind people think they see, or the sounds deaf people think they
hear, or even "ringing in the ears." From what I've read, when you hear
that "ringing," you aren't actually hearing it. Your brain is failing to
receive anything on that aural frequancy, so it creates a sound where the
sound is missing. Likewise, I feel that my mind is creating the feeling
of a perception, a feeling of understanding, where no such understanding

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The Life and Times of a Minor Local Celebrity

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