Anosognosia. Is that what I have?

A few weeks ago, when talking with my doctor friend Dave, I brought up my suspicion that I had recently developed an odd habit of which I was previously unaware.

Let me explain. One of my employees had recently presented me with an advertising idea. While it had its merits, my first response was to pepper him with pointed questions about its practicality. I challenged his suggestion rather than discussing it, and in retrospect, I didn’t like how I’d handled the conversation.

So that got me to wondering: had I begun to skew negative about new ideas? I love to run experiments and test ideas (my heartbeat still races while planning a novel marketing campaign), but was I actually becoming a more conservative and cynical marketer? If yes, then was I blind in my perception of self?

That scared me. Who doesn’t want to be confident of who they think they are? Dave, who has a rather encyclopedic mind, gave it some thought and introduced me to Anosognosia, a “deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.” I was fascinated.

Anosognosia, Dave explained, is related to brain injury, schizophrenia and neurological diseases like Alzheimers. It’s one of the primary reasons why individuals with bipolar disorder don’t take their medicine: they are unaware of their own illness. “I’m not sick, so I don’t need medicine,” thinks the individual, but only by taking the medicine can he battle the Anosognosia and foster the self-awareness that he is sick and needs the medicine. A rather nasty Catch-22.

So, yeah, I am not a candidate for that particular diagnosis, but I do find it amazing that such a difficult-to-pronounce disease exists. And I still believe that we humans have a wonderfully distasteful habit of ignoring about ourselves that which we do not like.

Considering my own original situation, I’ve decided in the future to work on holding my opinions firmly in check until after the presenter has given me the full pitch. Only then, if she hasn’t been able to sell me and show me she’s thought it through, will I start to ask the pertinent questions. But I’ll do it with more consideration and try to accentuate the positives.



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