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Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 11:45 AM
I remember as a child, I applied character traits and personalities to inanimate objects. Toys, rocks, balloons, imaginary friends and even distant things like the moon or things around town.

This behavior seems to have lingered into adulthood, however. And not just with me.
We apply personas to cars and machines and boats. Even to parts of those machines. When working on an engine or a transmission, I treat the girl with care and concern.

I was mulling over this one. What survival trait would we gain from doing this?
Why do we feel compelled to do this from early on? We develop loving attachment to the inanimate. As kids we even cry and grieve over something breaking. Not because our toy broke and we couldn't play with it anymore; but as if we have just lost a friend...

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-10, 12:34 PM
I have a doll I received when I was 7 yrs old on my birthday , it was a talking doll. I named her Susie , I was fond of her that she sleeps beside me .
I even treat her as my bestfriend.

She knows all my secrets , and hurts when I was a kid , especially when my mom and dad' s angry when I did something wrong .

Well , Im a grown up now and she is still my Susie.

:p

01101001
2007-Oct-10, 12:54 PM
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

We are social beings, with brains well-suited to surmising what our fellows are thinking and feeling, and much of our success comes from doing the same for animals around us.

It's no real surprise to me that we apply those same skills to inanimate objects.

The Supreme Canuck
2007-Oct-10, 12:57 PM
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

We are social beings, with brains well-suited to surmising what our fellows are thinking and feeling, and much of our success comes from doing the same for animals around us.

It's no real surprise to me that we apply those same skills to inanimate objects.

That sqeems abut rightto me. Smpl uman natur.

Edit: Stupid bloody keyboard, always out to get me!

;)

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 01:01 PM
But the inanimate isn't thinking anything.
In fact it's almost detrimental.
To use The Supreme Canuck's example...

If I hit my head on a half open cabinet in my kitchen I blame the cabinet door. I may even spontaniously react violently to the door to "punish it" for hurting me.

Which is more likely to do more harm to me than the cabinet door which will blissfully be numb to any of my efforts...

On top of this, I'm neglecting my own personal responsibility to protect myself and be aware of danger. By blaming the cabinet- it places the burden elsewhere than where it belongs- On myself.

This seems counterproductive to staying safe.

Larry Jacks
2007-Oct-10, 01:48 PM
This behavior seems to have lingered into adulthood, however. And not just with me.
We apply personas to cars and machines and boats. Even to parts of those machines. When working on an engine or a transmission, I treat the girl with care and concern.

Perhaps it's a holdover from the days when people used animals for labor so they had to take care of living beings. A cavalry soldier 150 years ago had to treat his horse well or it could leave him walking. A fighter pilot often thinks of his plane affectionately lest it let him down. Watching the PBS series "The War" last week, I saw names painted not only on planes but even on trucks and tanks. It certainly isn't a recent development. Sailors have referred to their boats using the word "she" for centuries.

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-10, 01:54 PM
Soldiers with K-9 dogs . These men treat their dogs as their partner in life in the line of duty and even off duty.

Well, dogs are a man's best friends.

Just an off topic -- sure dogs are not inanimate objects.


:p

Argos
2007-Oct-10, 02:04 PM
It think that the tendency to personalize objects is an extension of the tendency to see patterns and faces everywhere (in the clouds, in Mars). This ability has provided a big evolutionary advantage. It is a reminder of our social nature.

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 02:44 PM
It think that the tendency to personalize objects is an extension of the tendency to see patterns and faces everywhere (in the clouds, in Mars). This ability has provided a big evolutionary advantage. It is a reminder of our social nature.

I can understand that it is better to see a predator that isn't there than to not see one that is there.
However that seems the opposite of atributing character and personality traits to inanimate objects.
Although the similarity is striking, and I'm sure you are right that there is a connection, I also see this is detrimental to survival.
Caring for an inanimate object can cause hesitation at a crucial moment
Blaming inanimate objects for your own carelessness gives no motivation to improve your awareness of surrounding threats.
I cannot think of a positive result of caring for an inanimate object that might assist in survival but I can think of many where it might help you to get a Darwin Award.

Larry Jacks
2007-Oct-10, 02:50 PM
Soldiers with K-9 dogs . These men treat their dogs as their partner in life in the line of duty and even off duty.

Well, dogs are a man's best friends.

Just an off topic -- sure dogs are not inanimate objects.

Yes, it's true that dogs are not inanimate objects. The relationship between a military or police dog and its handler can be very close, sometimes even transcending death.

Killed in Iraq, dog team buried together (http://www.uswardogs.org/id44.html)

The cremated remains of Wiens and Cooper, a Labrador retriever, were buried together at Salt Creek Cemetery in Wiens’ hometown of Dallas, Ore., at the request of his family, said Master Sgt. Matt McHugh, the family’s casualty assistance officer.

“Kory referred to Cooper as his son, that’s now much of a team they were,” McHugh said.

Deputy, K-9 die in I-26 collision (http://www.palmettocops.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=12483)

lower on the linked page:

A deputy and his police dog who died together in a head-on collision Friday on Interstate 26 will be buried together.

...

Deese's fellow officers and his family approved of the burial arrangement, which Nash said is not unusual when officers and dogs they work with die together. He said Deese was very devoted to his two working dogs and to his two pet dogs.

Sonja and Deese "had developed the close, emotional bond that comes about through depending on each other day in and day out," Nash said. He said "a very fitting tribute to Deese and Sonja" is being planned.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-10, 03:01 PM
This is the kind of thread that pops up occasionally on the motorcycle forums.

I know quite a few guys who give their motorcycle a name, mostly a female name. Some even go so far as to have the name painted on. They probably think that if they call their bike by some name that it then becomes their friend (lover?) and won't throw them off or leave them stranded out in the desert, because surely a friend/lover wouldn't do that. I've seen some pretty weird "relationships" between bike and rider. To me, a motorcycle is just a thing. When I get tired of a thing I sell it and get another thing.

Fazor
2007-Oct-10, 03:09 PM
But the inanimate isn't thinking anything.
In fact it's almost detrimental.
To use The Supreme Canuck's example...

If I hit my head on a half open cabinet in my kitchen I blame the cabinet door. I may even spontaniously react violently to the door to "punish it" for hurting me.

Which is more likely to do more harm to me than the cabinet door which will blissfully be numb to any of my efforts...

On top of this, I'm neglecting my own personal responsibility to protect myself and be aware of danger. By blaming the cabinet- it places the burden elsewhere than where it belongs- On myself.

This seems counterproductive to staying safe.
Alright, I'm guilty of that. If I trip over something I've carelessly left laying around, I kick it and curse it like it was it's fault. But I think this is more an extension of human nature of not blaming oneself (or projection of anger), than it is a biproduct of anthropomorphism.

For instance, with your cabinet door example; I too would probably react by taking my anger out on the door. But at the same time, I don't go walking into cabinent doors all the time because I expect them to move out of my way.


As for talking to inanimate objects and the like, all I can say is humans are very social creatures. It doesn't suprise me that we might sometimes treat objects that we have a lot of contact with the same way as we would treat a person we have contact with.

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 03:19 PM
This is the kind of thread that pops up occasionally on the motorcycle forums.

I know quite a few guys who give their motorcycle a name, mostly a female name. Some even go so far as to have the name painted on. They probably think that if they call their bike by some name that it then becomes their friend (lover?) and won't throw them off or leave them stranded out in the desert, because surely a friend/lover wouldn't do that. I've seen some pretty weird "relationships" between bike and rider. To me, a motorcycle is just a thing. When I get tired of a thing I sell it and get another thing.

Lost her name when I sold the Harley:neutral:
But the loss didn't end there...
The guy that bought the bike let a step-son ride it and first thing he did was lay it out a week later. It was totaled. I sold it to the man I sold it to because he was my "adoptive dad." I knew how much he wanted it.
I was heartbroken, in this case not so much for the bike, though, but because the person I sold it to hadn't even had a chance to take her for even one ride yet...
ETA: I feel compelled to point out that there was no payment recieved for her. It didn't seem right to make him pay for a bike he never rode.
Just so that some of you don't get the idea I charged him for nothing:p

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 03:21 PM
Alright, I'm guilty of that. If I trip over something I've carelessly left laying around, I kick it and curse it like it was it's fault. But I think this is more an extension of human nature of not blaming oneself (or projection of anger), than it is a biproduct of anthropomorphism.

For instance, with your cabinet door example; I too would probably react by taking my anger out on the door. But at the same time, I don't go walking into cabinent doors all the time because I expect them to move out of my way.
Actually, it's the first impulse but I've gotten tired of fixing things and have begun learning to control it:p


As for talking to inanimate objects and the like, all I can say is humans are very social creatures. It doesn't suprise me that we might sometimes treat objects that we have a lot of contact with the same way as we would treat a person we have contact with.

I think I'm being stubborn here. I'm getting alot of "it doesn't surprise me..."
I think I overthought this one and complicated it inside my skull.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-10, 03:23 PM
Lost her name when I sold the Harley:neutral:


Sometimes I have pangs of regret when I sell a bike (I've had 34 so far) but mostly because I wonder if I did the right thing and whether or not I will be as pleased with my next bike.

Fazor
2007-Oct-10, 03:23 PM
Actually, it's the first impulse but I've gotten tired of fixing things and have begun learning to control it
Yeah, same way I got tired of buying mice (clicky variety, not squeaky) and keyboards. :)

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 03:24 PM
Actually, it's the first impulse but I've gotten tired of fixing things and have begun learning to control it
Yeah, same way I got tired of buying mice (clicky variety, not squeaky) and keyboards. :)

Playstation controllers:p

Fazor
2007-Oct-10, 03:35 PM
Playstation controllers:p
That's an old weakness of mine, but now I have a 42" plasma tv and a glass coffee table, so I'm too afraid of the consequences to let one of those suckers fly. :)

The Supreme Canuck
2007-Oct-10, 03:41 PM
I think we've put our collective finger on it. Man is social. Man's tiny monkey brain is stupid. Man thus attributes social characteristics to things because that's how man's stupid brain works.

Stupid, bloody brain.

torque of the town
2007-Oct-10, 03:42 PM
Sometimes I have pangs of regret when I sell a bike



I part ex'd my Raptor 1000 for a new ZZR this year, the first time I went back to the showroom and saw"her" there I actually felt guilty:( and wanted to buy her back:confused:


David

Palomar
2007-Oct-10, 03:46 PM
Could this question apply to robots, such as the Mars Exploration Rovers? I tend to think of them as "he" or "she."

I rarely personify an inanimate (or mechanical) object, but do sometimes. For me it stems from affection; as in the case of the MERs, how sturdy, stalwart and hearty they are.

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 03:49 PM
Could this question apply to robots, such as the Mars Exploration Rovers? I tend to think of them as "he" or "she."

I rarely personify an inanimate (or mechanical) object, but do sometimes. For me it stems from affection; as in the case of the MERs, how sturdy, stalwart and hearty they are.

In total agreement as well as a bit of pity for them. I wonder if they get lonely:p

I have a satirical article on this, but it's too adult for BAUT (strong language) However, you old people can PM me for it if you want.
ETA: Here is half the article:

Argos
2007-Oct-10, 03:52 PM
Could this question apply to robots, such as the Mars Exploration Rovers?

Totally. More than once I´ve heard/read people calling them 'bold', 'valiant', 'intrepid'...

The Supreme Canuck
2007-Oct-10, 04:01 PM
That kind of bothers me - why praise the robots when you could praise NASA/JPL?

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 04:08 PM
That kind of bothers me - why praise the robots when you could praise NASA/JPL?

The rovers are cuter.

The Supreme Canuck
2007-Oct-10, 04:13 PM
Wait, cute? If I saw one of those rovers coming at me, I'd be terrified. They're actually quite scary looking (http://www.clarejames.net/marsrover.jpg). I mean, it doesn't even have eyes! It's a machine. An object. Cute? Bah!

Noclevername
2007-Oct-10, 04:19 PM
This seems counterproductive to staying safe.

Yes, so does much of our instinctive behavior, because our circumstances change much faster than our genetically hardwired instincts. Evolution ain't fast, and it ain't perfect either, just a series of Rube Goldberg kluges.

Matherly
2007-Oct-10, 04:24 PM
*sigh*

Whenever I see the thread title, I always hear "The Little Shop of Horrors"

Seymor: But... you're a plant! An inanimate object
Audrey II: DOES THIS LOOK INANIMATE TO YOU, PUNK?!?!

And then once I started reading about the planes and motorcycles, I kept hearing...

Pinky: Egads! Do you think the old girl has any life in her?
Brain: Pinky, I detest the use of the application "Old Girl" in reference to an airplane
Pinky: Oh. I was talking about your mother, Brain.

I believe I may have terminal Geekitis

Neverfly
2007-Oct-10, 04:26 PM
Wait, cute? If I saw one of those rovers coming at me, I'd be terrified. They're actually quite scary looking (http://www.clarejames.net/marsrover.jpg). I mean, it doesn't even have eyes! It's a machine. An object. Cute? Bah!

I guess you didnt see this (http://www.bautforum.com/1061590-post134.html) the conspiracy section thread "Mars: Conspiracy of Ignorance. :p

torque of the town
2007-Oct-10, 04:42 PM
Wait, cute? If I saw one of those rovers coming at me, I'd be terrified. They're actually quite scary looking (http://www.clarejames.net/marsrover.jpg). I mean, it doesn't even have eyes! It's a machine. An object. Cute? Bah!




OK! so it's no C3PO........

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-10, 04:45 PM
OK! so it's no C3PO........

But a whole lot more useful than C3PO.

torque of the town
2007-Oct-10, 04:54 PM
But a whole lot more useful than C3PO.



Bah! I'd like to see it pull off a "camp" walk:eek:

The Supreme Canuck
2007-Oct-10, 05:31 PM
I guess you didnt see this (http://www.bautforum.com/1061590-post134.html) the conspiracy section thread "Mars: Conspiracy of Ignorance. :p

Well, well. Coincidence is fun, isn't it?

Tucson_Tim
2007-Oct-10, 05:34 PM
Bah! I'd like to see it pull off a "camp" walk:eek:

Is that from the Ministry of Funny Walks?

Click Ticker
2007-Oct-10, 06:31 PM
I cannot think of a positive result of caring for an inanimate object that might assist in survival but I can think of many where it might help you to get a Darwin Award.

I had an old beater car when I was a teenager. You had to manage the gas and brakes just right or it would stall out at every stop. Personifying that car helped me be patient with her and always drive her the way she wanted to be driven. Otherwise I was stuck walking.

torque of the town
2007-Oct-10, 07:22 PM
Is that from the Ministry of Funny Walks?



Quite possibly:whistle:

Fazor
2007-Oct-10, 07:34 PM
Camp. Ministery. Funny walks.... why is it that I have a particular scene from "Shanghai Noon" come to mind?

KaiYeves
2007-Oct-10, 09:23 PM
Because it helps us get through our hard, lonely lives.

Trebuchet
2007-Oct-10, 11:17 PM
For no reason I can understand, I tend to think of Spirit as "he" and Opportunity as "she". I've never named a car or a computer, although I've certainly cursed at them a time or two.

KaiYeves
2007-Oct-11, 12:05 AM
For no reason I can understand, I tend to think of Spirit as "he" and Opportunity as "she". I've never named a car or a computer, although I've certainly cursed at them a time or two.
Me, too! Especially as we hear about Oppie more, and we all know that girls call home more often than boys when on trips. My dad's car is the only car I've ever named. Sweet little silver '06 Toyota Scion Prius. We call her Greenbean. Every Prius I see, I now secretly think of as "Somebody else's Greenbean."

mugaliens
2007-Oct-11, 01:04 PM
I believe it's for the same reason that a dog who's neglected by his owners will develop a fondness for carrying around a toy bunny.

He's lonely.

I don't see kids with healthy attachments to their parents and others develop these traits. That doesn't mean they don't have their own issues...

Noclevername
2007-Oct-11, 11:51 PM
I don't see kids with healthy attachments to their parents and others develop these traits. That doesn't mean they don't have their own issues...

I don't think it's a trait that develops, but rather is unlearned. Babies all start out being unable to distinguish living from nonliving, and slowly learn to create exclusive categories for them. Or not, as the case may be. There are still many peoples in the world who believe that each thing has its own 'spirit' or anima.

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-12, 02:02 AM
I believe it's for the same reason that a dog who's neglected by his owners will develop a fondness for carrying around a toy bunny.

He's lonely.

I don't see kids with healthy attachments to their parents and others develop these traits. That doesn't mean they don't have their own issues...

Kids minds love to explore. Every child I saw even myself passed this stage. I see it in my son, talking to his toys like he can actually having a conversation with it. And may be you and others have been like that when we were kids.

It doesn't mean my son doesn't have a healthy attachment with me .
It's the stage where the motors skills of a child is developing and this toys are tools in helping them as they grow up .

novaderrik
2007-Oct-12, 02:11 AM
Me, too! Especially as we hear about Oppie more, and we all know that girls call home more often than boys when on trips. My dad's car is the only car I've ever named. Sweet little silver '06 Toyota Scion Prius. We call her Greenbean. Every Prius I see, I now secretly think of as "Somebody else's Greenbean."
for some reason, i just remembered a scene in the move "Coneheads" where Dan Aykroyd's character is talking about his personal "conveyance that's named a man who built cars, a dead president, and the first planet from the sun"..
or something like that..
he owned a Ford Lincoln Mercury Tempo, i think.

Neverfly
2007-Oct-12, 07:47 AM
Kids minds love to explore. Every child I saw even myself passed this stage. I see it in my son, talking to his toys like he can actually having a conversation with it. And may be you and others have been like that when we were kids.

It doesn't mean my son doesn't have a healthy attachment with me .
It's the stage where the motors skills of a child is developing and this toys are tools in helping them as they grow up .

Disagree with Mugaliens- agree with you.

I didn't comment after Mugaliens because I watched Nick, and he didn't seem very "attached" to inanimate objects. There's nothing he carries around with him anywhere. He likes his things and takes care of them, but still treats them as inanimate...

So I didn't know how to respond.

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-13, 06:02 AM
Same with my son, he loves his toys, he's fond of playing with them. He enjoys playing with the whole day and he never got tired of it.

These toys are part of his life as he grows up.

And he still runs to me and cuddle adn talk about lots of things and about his toys over and over when I come home.
We only have each other , in this world, and I love him so much.

;)

Lianachan
2007-Oct-13, 10:10 AM
Nobody has yet mentioned that this is a very ancient practice. The extension of personality to places, trees, rocks, the very forces of nature themselves manifest as gods, spirits, guardians, etc.. as a way to seek protection, be able to exert influence, etc.. was something that went on for millenia, and still does to a certain extent. Whatever the psychological spark that triggers that sort of behaviour, it considerably pre-dates motorbikes, cars and suchlike.

Delvo
2007-Oct-13, 11:38 AM
I think of it as a metaphor: an efficient shortcut for describing things, traits, and events that would otherwise be harder to describe. Examples most of us here are familiar with, even coming from people who don't personify objects or believe in spirits, are scientists describing physical phenomena as if they were the results of choices made by personalities.

They'll talk about atoms and molecules as liking/wanting to interact with each other in certain human-sounding ways or "avoiding" doing so, instead of always describing the mechanisms more literaly in terms of positive and negative charges at various distances from each other. They'll talk about the Uncertainty Principle in terms of the universe not knowing stuff about the particle, or not making its mind up, despite the UP being arguably the perfect opportunity to show how the universe is not guided by a decision-making mind. They'll describe events of evolution as if species were deciding what to do next in response to challenges and individuals (even in species with no nervous systems) were personally motivated to live long and reproduce, and refer to body "designs" and "plans" as if organisms had been designed and planned, even if they're the very same people who argue at other times against such thinking, because they know it's technically wrong but still find it the best way to talk about things instead of always struggling to come up with a more literally precise wording.

It's not normally a matter of distorted belief in the nature of things. It's just an attempt to describe something that's easiest to describe as if it were acting like a person even if you know it isn't. Seriously, look back over some of the explanations you've used for almost any scientific subject before, and try to picture how you'd reword it without sounding like you're talking about big-brained animal behavior. You'd even have to take out words like "organized" and "arrangement" because they're short ways of saying someone organized or arranged things. It can be very hard to do and lead to really long, awkward, roundabout babblation.

The only catch is that such metaphorical thinking can be taken too far...

blueshift
2007-Oct-16, 12:38 AM
The question is " Why do humans personify inanimate objects?"

The answer has nothing to do with human conditioning whatsoever. It has to do with the brain and how it has evolved and how it continues to have its parts cross-talking to other parts with very particular direction. It is why metaphors exist and why we say such things as "sharp cheddar cheese" when we all know that none of us ever cut his or her finger on cheese. The TPO junction in the brain is where the occipital, parietal and temporal lobes all meet and those brain parts that deal with shape (the angular gyri) are located right near where those parts that deal with taste and smell and shape and color and sound, depending upon which side this occurs.

When patients of Ramachandran are shown two pics, one of a cloud and the other of a lightning bolt, they are asked to name one "booba" and the other "kikki". It doesn't matter what country or culture the person comes from, English-speaking or not. Look in the mirror when you say each word and then watch the shape of your mouth when you say the word. Kikki comes close to the shape of the lightning bolt and booba makes your mouth shape more like the cloud. The word "sina"(pronounced "see-nah") means "tomorrow in one African language. Look in the mirror and say it. Your mouth starts out flat and horizontal, like the horizon. It finishes with the shape of the sun.

Those are not the only examples. Ramchandran has a very easy reading book with an outstanding notes that accompany it. Much of the latest experiments with the brain confirm his findings.

http://www.amazon.com/Brief-Tour-Human-Consciousness-Impostor/dp/0131872788/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-6067010-0344868?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192493636&sr=1-1

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-16, 01:59 AM
Is it because humans are sociable and caring in nature?

They personify things because they gave importance and value to it.

It adds meaning to their lives.


:think:

blueshift
2007-Oct-16, 02:47 AM
Is it because humans are sociable and caring in nature?

They personify things because they gave importance and value to it.

It adds meaning to their lives.


:think:Lions are sociable and caring as well but don't speak in metaphors. Many schizophrenics cannot comprehend metaphors because their brains do not do enough cross talking and, as a result, they will look up at the ceiling when someone gives holds up one finger as if to represent the number one. (Actually the finger represents something else but I did not want to break any forum rules here.)

Neverfly
2007-Oct-16, 02:51 AM
Lions are sociable and caring as well but don't speak in metaphors. Many schizophrenics cannot comprehend metaphors because their brains do not do enough cross talking and, as a result, they will look up at the ceiling when someone gives holds up one finger as if to represent the number one. (Actually the finger represents something else but I did not want to break any forum rules here.)

Depends on witch finger. I can index it four yew.

Whirlpool
2007-Oct-16, 04:54 AM
Well , I don't get it.
My understanding of the OP , is humans tend to treat things around him as part of his. Like cars, appliances, toys which he became attached and is became a part of his life from being a kid until he grew up as an adult.

I still don't see it related to using fingers as making out of something , or speaking a word that will be define and understood as Lightning and CLoud.


:confused:

Neverfly
2007-Oct-16, 05:06 AM
I don't agree with Blueshifts post either.
It takes some work to figure out how my mouth looks like lightning or a cloud.

I think o-shape to line-shape is what is intended... But really that is like astrology that can and will find a similarity somewhere that will support the argument.
And the horizon claim... <chuckle>
It wasn't just this, but several other parts of the argument that just smacked of "lining it all up and seeing what looks like it might fit with some imagination" to me...

I'm sure over time and from the dawn of language there are some influences.

blueshift
2007-Oct-18, 11:10 PM
I don't agree with Blueshifts post either.
It takes some work to figure out how my mouth looks like lightning or a cloud.

I think o-shape to line-shape is what is intended... But really that is like astrology that can and will find a similarity somewhere that will support the argument.
And the horizon claim... <chuckle>
It wasn't just this, but several other parts of the argument that just smacked of "lining it all up and seeing what looks like it might fit with some imagination" to me...

I'm sure over time and from the dawn of language there are some influences.I think you need to read Ramachandran's book. He did not cook something out of thin air. He studied patients that received injuries to parts of the brain. What follows is a sampling. This isn't quite word-for-word but it is close:

"In one example was a patient who was in a car accident, sustaining a head injury, and was in a coma. After a couple of weeks he came out of the coma and was intact neurologically except for one newfound delusion. He would look at his mother and claim that she was an imposter. Freudians had one view that related to the Oedipus complex. However, the delusion was not only about his mother but his pet poodle. Clearly Freud needs to step aside here and neuroscience has a better explanation.

"Light enters the eye and excites the photoreceptors on the retina and impulses are sent via the optic nerve to the back of the brain where they are analyzed by 30 different visual areas. The process of identification takes place in a small region called the fusiform gyrus, the area that was damaged in this patient's case. Once the image is recognized the message is relayed to a structure called the amygdala, also called the gateway to the limbic system, the emotional core of the brain, which allows one to gauge the emotional significance of what you are looking at. Is this a predator? Prey? Some possible future mate? Or is this some unimportant stranger or something as insignificant as a fire hydrant that a dog may value for the moment?

"So the fusiform gyrus (which recognizes shapes) and all the visual areas seem normal and what he sees is some replica of his mother that he has no feeling for. It can't be her. It appears that the "wire" that goes from the visual centers to the amygdala (the emotional centers) has been cut by the accident. When he hears his mother's voice on the phone he recognizes her. his auditory channels are all working so he is sure that the voice is hers. This is called Capgras delusion.

"Cross wiring in the brain can also be caused by gene mutation. Synesthesia results in a mingling of the senses. For example, hearing a particular music note might invoke a particular color: C sharp can be red while F sharp can be blue. Numbers can produce a similar effect. 5 might always be red, 6 always green, 7 always indigo, 8 always yellow. One in 200 people have this condition. Both the number area of the brain, which represents visual graphemes of numbers, and color information are analyzed in the fusiform gyrus, almost touching the color area. Ramachadran was suspicious and did an experiment.

"He used a computer display and put a number of black 5s scattered on a white background. Embedded amongst those 5s were a number of 2s forming a hidden shape. Since they were computer-generated, the 2s are just mirror images of the 5s. Most people see only a random jumble of numbers while a synesthete sees the 5s as green and the 2s as a red shape that is very visible against a forest of green.

"Now going from the the back of your head near the base of the skull and working up-- Injuries nearest the base produce problems with the pharynx. A blow just above that produces problems with the lips. Just above that an injury shows problems in the facial area, about 35* up from the neck. At 45*
up from the base an injury gives thumb problems while the hand is next higher and the trunk is near the top. An injury protruding deeper at the top attacks the foot and deeper still hits your private parts. This is called a Penfield map.

"When an amputee has lost his hand an ice cube placed on that area of the head produces a chill in his phantom hand, which the patient still feels is there. A brain imaging technique called MEG (magnetoencephalography) shows which parts of the brain are stimulated when parts of the body are touched and all experiments validify the Penfield map."

What Ramachadran did with an amputee of one hand is to make a mirror box so that it was at a right angle to his chest so that the reflection in the mirror produced an opposite hand image, an image of the phantom hand. When the patient was asked to clap both hands together or to pretend he was conducting an orchestra while looking in the mirror. There was immediate relief from the sense of the spasms that were felt before.

Ramachadran is against using the technique on people in auto crashes that have all limbs intact. He feels that pain is a signal for rest and tricking the injured area to function without pain will make matters worse.

Ramchadran has a sea of evidence and I suggest you read the book.