A word for our times

There is a word for the state of lack of awareness, or being in self-denial, or self-delusional, about one’s own ignorance, stupidity, incompetence, self-contradiction, and incapability of making sense. And the word is anosognosia. I just came upon it last night.

And it can equally apply to a crowd of people — social anosognosia – who collude in a person’s anosognosic state, and make the self-delusional, self-inflated anosognosic person believe that he is making sense and that he is competent.

Errol Morris presents the case of former Pres. Woodrow Wilson, who after a series of strokes, became semi-paralyzed. “…Wilson’s inability to perceive his own incapacity had truly devastating consequences for the nation and world he helped to lead (my emphasis).[51] Perhaps even more troublingly, the reaction to Wilson’s anosognosia on the part of his close associates raises the possibility of an even more problematic impairment — a social anosognosiaCan a group of people, perhaps even society at large, devolve into a state of destructive cluelessness? http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/the-anosognosics-dilemma-somethings-wrong-but-youll-never-know-what-it-is-part-3/

 VS. Ramachandran, author of “Phantoms in the Brain,” says: “you can have anosognosia for Wernicke’s aphasia [a neurological disorder that prevents comprehension or production of speech] or you can have it for amnesia. Patients that are amnesic don’t know they are amnesic.  So, it has a much wider, broader usage.   Although it was originally discovered in the context of hemiplegia by Babinski and is most frequently used in that context, the word has a broader meaning.  Wernicke’s aphasiacs are completely lacking in language comprehension and seem oblivious to it because [although] they smile, or they nod to whatever you say, they don’t understand a word of what you’re saying.  They have anosognosia for their lack of comprehension of language.  It’s really spooky to see them.  Here’s somebody producing gibberish, and they don’t know they’re producing gibberish” (Emphasis mine, quoted from the same 5-part series of articles as above).

Sounds familiar?


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