Saturday, November 20, 2010

What about that Witzelsucht?

Witzelsucht, that's the name German scientists have given to a dysfunction that causes some people to compulsively tell bad jokes or corny puns, as well as indulging in just plain silly behavior.  Supposedly, it is caused by an injury to the right frontal lobe and could be caused by trauma, stroke, infection or tumor.  My question is, what about people who have always been that way...is that a result of an injury at birth?

My ex has no sense of what constitutes a good joke vs. a bad one or even when a joke should be told and when it shouldn't. Example: He is a huge Alabama football fan. Rachel's in-laws are huge Auburn fans.  While we were all in the hospital waiting room eagerly awaiting our first opportunity to meet Emma, the ex told numerous Cam Newton jokes to the in-laws.

(for those of you who do not live in Alabama and therefore may not have a clue as to what I'm talking about...Newton is Auburn's star quarterback. His name is being tossed around for the Heisman. There is also talk going around that his father campaigned improperly for cash incentives for his son to choose Auburn to play for..which would result in him being ineligible to play....so see not a great topic to joke about with an Auburn fan...which I also happen to be...)

Back to the topic of brain anomalies....I put my name on the waiting list at the library this morning to get the new Oliver Sacks book, The Mind's Eye and also to have his autobiography, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, sent over from another local library.  Sacks' neurological research has been a topic of fascination for me for a long time. I just hope my myelin sheath is in good enough condition and the synapses fire fast enough for me to understand more than every third word of what he writes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name Oliver Sacks, the 1990 movie Awakenings, staring Robin Williams, was based on Sacks 1973 memoir of the same name.  The story is of his discovery of the effects of the drug L-dopa on catatonic patients who survived the 1917-1928 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica.



The human brain is a remarkable thing....when it works correctly and even when it doesn't. But, fascinating or not....I will never think the ex's jokes are funny.  Thank goodness I don't have to listen to them very often anymore!

18 comments:

  1. I am jealous and I would lurve some fudge! ha ha

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  2. ha! there is a guy that was in my camera classes that constantly and i do mean constantly told really bad puns...even when we refused to laugh he kept telling them. this makes me wonder about him....

    but...yay for new babies!

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  3. Oh dear. I know someone like that! ha.

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  4. I can promise that I will be gushing over your photos but I can't promise to not be jealous. Have a good time.

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  5. Oh, there are SO many people like that!

    I am interested in that Sacks book Stevie!

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  6. I loved Sack's book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"! It was fascinating! I'll also have to put my name in the queue for his new book

    I've always wondered what makes someone like Robin Williams be able to find humor in every situation and make a joke about it? Is he a brilliant Witzelsucht?

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  7. I have known people like that too.;))
    Enjoy your stay at the cabin, it sounds lovely.;))
    xoxo

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  8. Sounds like Dad Jokes to me and what's wrong with that :)

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  9. I wonder what it means...if anything... if someone, like myself, cannot ever remember a punchline if telling a joke. I am the worst joke teller on earth but at least I don't try to tell bad jokes all the time:)

    On the other hand I am a hugh Oliver Sacks fan...he is one amazing, interesting guy...and a great writer.

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  10. Hi there! I'm Lucia from Mail Away. I m not sure, is it you Stephanie? Or what's your real name?
    I've read the book of Oliver sacks. In italian the title is "L'uomo che scambio sua moglie per un cappello". I think in English sounds more or less "the man who changes his wife for a hat". mmh...I guess. Anyway it was quite interesting!!!
    Take care
    bye

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  11. It was strange to be at my daughter's wedding with my ex and my husband. I watched him and I thought, "What did I ever see?" and I couldn't answer that question at all. At the end of the party, I was very happy to leave with my quiet and good husband.

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  12. This must be an abnormality that affects a lot of people....I happen to know one myself, and I always cringe when he begin laughing, thinking he's the next big sensation while everyone else is just smiling, looking very uncomfortable. Maybe I should ask if anyone dropped him on his head when he was little....would explain a lot!

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  13. Loved the book Awakenings was based on ... Sacks writes so well ..

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  14. Right after I wrote my earlier comment I happened to listen to "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" on the radio and the first question I heard was about Witzelsucht! I knew the answer for once:)

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  15. Lucia, yes my real name is Stephanie. The english name of the book is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." I haven't read that one, but I bet it was good.

    Oliag, you caught me. I heard that "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me too. I immediately recognized the "syndrome" and looked it up. Being still irritated about the joke at the hospital incident, I had to post about it.

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  16. I guess we don't all have the same sense of humour Steviewren. I think men and women are different in that regard too. We just have to be polite to eachother I think? :-) - Dave

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  17. I admit to being a Sack addict. Guess that also makes me a Witzelsucht sufferer. But I am a chemist, and love Uncle Tungsten. And yay Auburn, since I'm in the South, too.

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I'm glad you stopped by and I look forward to your comments. As Dr. Fraser Crane would say, "Hello, I'm listening."