2nd nature misfires

Is there a term, or even better, a concept w/in the neurobiological or psychological world for those behavioral events that I tried to encapsulate in the tag line but can be better described anecdotaly as in:

  1. I’m driving down the Interstate and notice a Trooper in the mirror and immediately think “How fast am I going?” and cop a quick look at…my watch!
  2. Bustling around in the morning I pop a new filter in the coffee maker, take the coffee out of the cupboard and fill the filter, grab the kettle off the stove and fill it w/water, put the kettle back in the cupboard, …wait a minute!
    Now I realize if I just left this post as is it would just be an opening for a lot of wisecracks, but I talk to lots of people in the course of my life and I realize this is a common phenomenon. I remember from some psychology course the concept of the “Fixed Action Pattern” wherein a sea otter(?) will dive to the bottom and grab up a crusted morsel as well as a handy rock and surface and roll over to float on his back and place the yummy on his chest w/one appendage and swing the other around w/the rock to crack it open - if by chance he drops the morsel on the swim up, supposedly he still rolls over on his back and slams himself in the chest w/the rock (Another dry hole!).

Ask someone how long it will take for that kettle of water to boil (assuming it gets to the stove) and they will look at their watch.
Same thing if you ask what time something will happen.
What time do you get off work?
(Peek at watch) oh, about 5:00.
I don’t wear a watch, so I’ll look at a clock.

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything” Mark Twain 1894

Beatle: Maybe you have Epstein-Barr syndrome.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

Mono? Sure, I got it in high school, as did almost everybody else, but I’ve never seen or heard of anything like what I tried to describe attributed to mono.

Well, I did a web search, but I couldn’t get a definite answer. I was under the impression that Epstein-Barr syndrome was the result of getting mono as an adult, and one of the symptoms was “misfirings” of the sort that you described.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

Kinda, sorta on topic…

I have two dogs who stay inside a lot. When one of them sees a squirrel in the back yard they start barking and scratching at the door until I let them out. They charge across the yard barking after the squirrel. Of course, they have made so much noise it is far ahead of them and never has any trouble getting away.

Anyway, the squirrels always seemed to run to this one tree in the back corner of the yard. One day, the dogs charged out and the squirrel, instead of running towards the tree, ran a few steps in the other direction and froze. The dogs ran right past it and to the usual tree, then started looking around in confusion for the squirrel (who was now bolting for the other side of the yard).

Gotta watch those programmed responses…

.sig file missing — (A)dlib, ®etry, (F)ail?

Dennis Matheson — tanstaafl@earthlink.net
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb — home.earthlink.net/~tanstaafl

Well I’m still looking for some kind of answer on this and I don’t think Epstein-Barr got us there. It was posted when there were 200-300 members and now we’ve got a lot more resources to draw upon.


Well, that squirrel was a little more together than the one I (nearly) ran into the other day. The latter was checking things out on the house side of a public sidewalk, while the nearest tree was in the curb strip. When I turned a corner and walked quickly past, I didn’t see the squirrel until he was about four inches in front of my feet, heading for the tree in the curb strip. Gotta reprogram that dude, or else get ‘im some o’ them Doobie mouse genes.

BTW, are “misfires” any different from absent-mindedness?

Ray (OK, now where are the scissors? In the drawer with my underwear. Ouch! No, that’s awl, Folks.)

I once put the cereals in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. It’s a good thing somebody saw me…

I’ve put my shoes in the refrigerator more than once. Ice cream, too. I regularly put detergent, fabric softener and water in the washing machine only to return later and wonder why there are no clothes in there.

But I think the best illustration is the hair-washing thing. I quite often end up washing my hair twice (or do I?) because try as I might, I cannot remember if I did it already - something that might have ocurred 30 seconds ago. Or the drive to work… often I have absolutely no recollection of having driven there, yet there I am.

I stopped wearing a watch about ten years ago, but it took me probably five of those years to stop looking at my wrist. I think it’s just a matter of a habit becomong so ingrained it requires no thought. I like to think it frees the brain for more important things like composing the imaginary witty replies to SDMB threads - the replies that constantly elude me when I’m actually sitting at the keyboard. This might be a case in point.

How about physical spoonerisms?

In a 1988 book, “The Psychology of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman, there is a section on this sort of misfire. I can’t for the life of me remember what term was used for them – it might have included “Spoonerism.”

oh dear god… and nickz our moderator!!!

afraid… very afraid

The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I’m left with is the memory of having learned
something very wise that I can’t quite remember. -George Carlin

I’m 46. Nickrz, how old are you?

Believe pal, I’ve done that standing around in the shower-did I?-thing before.

I also have problems in the bathroom. . .

I frequently move to brush my teeth with my hairbrush. Probably cause I brush my teeth more frequently than my hair.

I also find myself grabbing my Clearasil (adult strength, Bobdamnit!) as I’m removing my contant lenses.

Life is short. Make fun of it.

I remember from Psych class some dudah classified thing in to:
Declarative memory: which is based on language.
Procedural memory: which is based on doing stuff.

Hey Beatle, maybe you have BRIAN Epstein-Barr syndrome. Har har har.

I know that’s quite a stretch but it’s the first thing that came to me when I saw “Beatle” and “Epstein” in the same sentence. (Sigh!)

I have some of the forgetting what happened seconds before at work, but it’s usually because I have to repeat the same questions all day. For example: At the orthodontist where I work the first thing we ask is “Anything loose or broken?” and sometimes by the time the chair is back I can’t remember if I asked them or not. When I worked at a theater I would frequently ask someone multiple times if they wanted butter on their corn because by the time I’d filled the container I’d forgotten if I’d asked them or not.

That’s not exactly the nature of what you’re asking about though, which I don’t really know what the term for is either…where a stimulus provokes a completly unrelated response, right?

Maybe not quite right. Not a completely unrelated response; more like a somewhat related “canned” response that is inappropriate.