Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘brain

Minds Boggled

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Remember the drama of the blue/black dress that looked gold/white or the audio exercise of hearing Laurel or Yanny? Did you know our eyes only look at a very small area and your brain fills in a guess of what the rest of the surrounding area looks like?

Cyndie set a timer to remind her about a Nova episode on PBS last night but somehow still missed it. I pointed out that as a member of public television, she can stream the program at her convenience. The program she wanted to see was season 50/episode 9: “Your Brain: Perception Deception.”

Our perception of the external world is much less objective than we’d like to believe.

If you have access to this program, I encourage you to spend the time to have your mind boggled about our brains and how conscious awareness manifests.

It is so packed with information that I could watch it over and over and still not believe everything it reveals about how my perception works.

I am so glad there are people who study these things and share what they learn in programs like Nova.



Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2023 at 6:00 am

Infuriating Sounds

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I’m just discovering this now. The irrational over-reaction I occasionally experience –say, to the mouth sounds of my wife chewing beside me– has a label: Misophonia. I’m well aware of plenty of people who voice irritation over a variety of particular sounds, but reading about the fight-or-flight reaction being triggered in the brain really caught my attention.

When I feel this surprisingly intense anxiety pop up, as the ambient quiet of an evening gets disrupted by the munching of almonds, I have been curious about a sudden desire to crawl out of my skin in hope of escape.

It’s as if I’m being attacked.

Since it is obvious that I’m not, the idea that my brain is firing as if the command to run away has been triggered, seems like a very plausible explanation.

Almost everyone is irritated by the sound of fingernails across a chalkboard, but a misophonic reaction goes well beyond irritation.

Misophonia is characterized by intense emotion like rage or fear in response to highly specific sounds, particularly ordinary sounds that other people make…

“It’s as if the survival part of the brain thinks somehow it’s being attacked or it’s in danger…”


Choosing to just ignore the sound is not an option when your brain has fired and the whole body is revving up for a fight.

“Must. Stop. That. Sound. Before it kills me!”

My siblings may recall our family dinnertime ritual of being chastised by our beloved sister, Linda, for letting our teeth make contact with our fork.

I now have a better understanding of why that probably made her so angry.



Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2019 at 6:00 am