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Another Neurological Poke At Free Will


chefranden
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If there is free will, doesn't one have to wonder if there is a "free will" brain module that could be damaged so that one didn't have free will?

 

 

Brain damage turns man into human chameleon

 

In his 1983 fake documentary 'Zelig', Woody Alan plays a character, Leonard Zelig, a kind of human chameleon who takes on the appearance and behaviour of whoever he is with. Now psychologists in Italy have reported the real-life case of AD, a 65-year-old whose identity appears dependent on the environment he is in. He started behaving this way after cardiac arrest caused damage to the fronto-temporal region of his brain.

 

When with doctors, AD assumes the role of a doctor; when with psychologists he says he is a psychologist; at the solicitors he claims to be a solicitor. AD doesn't just make these claims, he actually plays the roles and provides plausible stories for how he came to be in these roles.

 

To investigate further, Giovannina Conchiglia and colleagues used actors to contrive different scenarios. At a bar, an actor asked AD for a cocktail, prompting him to immediately fulfil the role of bar-tender, claiming that he was on a two-week trial hoping to gain a permanent position. Taken to the hospital kitchen for 40 minutes, AD quickly assumed the role of head chef, and claimed responsibility for preparing special menus for diabetic patients. He maintains these roles until the situation changes. However, he didn't adopt the role of laundry worker at the hospital laundry, perhaps because it was too far out of keeping with his real-life career as a politician.

 

AD's condition is a form of disinhibition, but it appears distinct from other well-known disinhibition syndromes such as utilisation behaviour, in which patients can't help themselves from using any objects or food in the vicinity. For example, AD didn't touch anything in the hospital kitchen.

 

His tendency to switch roles is exacerbated by anterograde amnesia (a loss of memory for events since his cardiac arrest) and anosognosia – a lack of insight into his strange behaviour.

 

“AD seems to have lost the capacity to keep his own identity constant, as he adapts himself excessively to variations in the social contexts, violating his own identity connotations in order to favour a role which the environment proposes”, the researchers said.

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Wow. A man of many identities. Does each one of the identity he takes on have its own soul and have to be saved to go to Heaven? The evangelist would be quite busy trying to "save" each and every individual he becomes. :) ... Actually thinking about it, he would become a fundamentalist and try to convert evangelist instead. :HaHa:

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I'm sure you're just being informative, and I'm glad to learn about this interesting occurance, but I do tend to wince a little when people use titles such as this "Another Neurological Poke At Free Will". I don't want to cause arguement or anything, but I find this sort of thing really hard to hear (or read). It seems that when science discovers something (I'm aware there is no specific scientific claim here) people seem to react like we've destroyed it. If it turns out that free will doesn't exist then that means it never did. It's not science's 'fault' and I've always found understanding how something works (in any field) to be an amazing experiance, not a disappointment that I can no longer think of it as 'magic'. Once again, not an attack, I just wanted people to read this.

Perhaps I'm more of a horrendous narcissist than I realised.

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Perhaps being a politician, he was always a chameleon of sorts? Maybe the brain injury doesn't allow him to hide it as well? :Hmm:

 

Do we really have much free will? We are limited by natural laws to a great degree. Not only can we not flap our arms and fly at will, we are also subjected to the natural repercussions of our actions till we decide not to do them any more. Although free will seems to be a biblical concept, I don't think it is ever mentioned there. How much free will do we really have? :shrug:

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I'm sure you're just being informative, and I'm glad to learn about this interesting occurance, but I do tend to wince a little when people use titles such as this "Another Neurological Poke At Free Will".

 

It helps to understand Chef loves to play the devil's advocate and use intentionally provocative language. ;)

 

Not as a troll tactic, though; it's just the best way to grab attention, start discussions and get those mental gears turning. He's just about the greatest personification I think I've ever seen of the admonition "question everything."

 

A label I'm sure you'd be rather proud of, eh Chef?

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AD makes sense. Frontal lobe is damaged so he can't do any critical thinking. All he has left is feeling and feeling is automatically chameleon--you want to be like the people you're with. Except in his case it's on the level of pathology.

 

neverclear said:

 

If it turns out that free will doesn't exist then that means it never did.

 

The idea of free will is so vague I can't make head or tails of it. I wouldn't bother with it.

 

Amanda said:

 

Although free will seems to be a biblical concept, I don't think it is ever mentioned there. How much free will do we really have?

 

Free will is definitely not in the Bible. I read the Bible. Then I heard about free will. I think as far as history of thought goes, free will became a religious term in response to Calvin's strong emphasis on predestination. So far as I can make out, in predestination, people become robots of puppets of god. Folk couldn't handle that--nor can I. So out comes free will.

 

In my mind, free will is a philosophical concept and not a scientific fact.

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A label I'm sure you'd be rather proud of, eh Chef?

 

You Bet!

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I'm sure you're just being informative, and I'm glad to learn about this interesting occurance, but I do tend to wince a little when people use titles such as this "Another Neurological Poke At Free Will". I don't want to cause arguement or anything, but I find this sort of thing really hard to hear (or read). It seems that when science discovers something (I'm aware there is no specific scientific claim here) people seem to react like we've destroyed it. If it turns out that free will doesn't exist then that means it never did. It's not science's 'fault' and I've always found understanding how something works (in any field) to be an amazing experiance, not a disappointment that I can no longer think of it as 'magic'. Once again, not an attack, I just wanted people to read this.

Perhaps I'm more of a horrendous narcissist than I realised.

 

 

I think I'd like to answer this, but I'm not clear about what the problem is.

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I think I'd like to answer this, but I'm not clear about what the problem is.

 

I don't really have one, I just have a 5000 word annual research report to write!

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