From the editor's mouth to your cerebral cortex






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Psychology hurts my head. And hands. And feet.

7 May 2007. Earlier today I found myself suddenly under attack. My defences down, I was relaxing while watching snooker on the telly, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. Then this happened: I was attacked in my own home!

It wasn’t masked assailants coming in through windows, or armed combatants hiding in the bathroom. Nor was it ninjas, intent on capture, or an escaped tiger in search of lunch. It was a far more unpredictable character than all these people. It was that great judge, jury and executioner, Karma. Who knows what I did, look at a warthog the wrong way or something probably. Or slept with someone’s wife, I don’t remember the full details.

As I ventured into the kitchen in search of snacks, I opened the fridge door. Spying no treats, I closed it again, and wheeled backwards to continue the hunt. Then – SMACK! – my head rebounded against the door of an inexplicably open cupboard above. Temporarily infuriated, I smashed it with my hand. Caught the metal knob a real treat. Queue more excruciating pain. I fled the scene as retreat seemed to be the best course of action. Escaping back rapidly to the sanctuary of the microcosmical Crucible that is my bedroom, my foot snagged the side of my chest of drawers.

Something was happening. Pain kept on happening to me no matter what I did. The bed I thought, get to the bed where there’s no sharp objects, I will be safe there. And indeed I was as it turns out. Feeling angry and sorry for myself in equal measures, I lay there waiting for the pain to subside, sans the aforementioned snacks.

What was notable about this series of unfortunate happenings was the fact that in each case I had developed an almost instantaneous reactionary strategy to combat the pain. My first reaction was, however irrationally, to violently hit out at the cause of the pain by punching the cupboard door. The second plan was to flee, and finally, as my toes were dealt a severe stubbing, I quickly decided that retreat to soft ground was what was required, where there was the least chance of more pain being dished out.

Maybe this is as a result of basic human instinct. I think all animals will naturally react when they believe themselves to be in peril or under attack. Yet in each case my natural inclination was exactly what caused the next piece of damage to happen. Does that make us all stupid or just me? I’d like to think maybe the whole of creationism is at fault here in order to reduce the amount of personal derision attributable to myself.

If I’d simply done nothing, I would have been fine. I would have been nursing a cracked head but would have avoided the numb hand and bruised foot. There are probably loads of situations where people have negatively influenced their situation by stupid on the spot decision making. Nature is dumb but people, with their posh craniums, need not be.

Hey Nature. Here’s something you don’t appear to know. Doing nothing is also a reaction – think next time please!

Maybe if everyone just stopped to think rather than reacting to stuff in this way we’d all be a little better off. And we’d all have less lacerated digits.

Such is life, for what it is.