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anonyjelly16's avatar

This level of forgetfulness?

Asked by anonyjelly16 (747points) May 31st, 2008

I overheard the strangest conversation in class today.

One person (I am being gender-neutral just in case) said to another that they were so stressed out about the bar that their short term memory is completely shot. However, the interesting thing is that their short term memory is related to their body. For example, while showering, they forget if they washed their hair or not and end up shampooing twice. They also forget if they wiped and obsess over it until they go to the bathroom to repeat the procedure. They forget whether they brushed their teeth and have to remember based on whether their mouth feels minty from the toothpaste.

Is this normal for someone who is intensely studying for a bar exam? Doesn’t this sound like something more serious? Why would the pattern of forgetfulness have to do only with their body?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Hmm, possible OCD? If it is, probably only the individual would know, because they usually do not discuss the obsessive thoughts (for obvious reasons). This site has a quiz.

playthebanjo's avatar

Sounds like maybe there was a bit of hyperbole going on. I suppose that it is possible to be so stressed out and frazzled that you are all crazy like that…I tend to not give enough of a Sh*t most of the time to ever let things get to me. So I really can’t relate…but I wouldn’t let it get to you (if it is)...until next time you see them, drooling, with toilet tissue trailing behind them down the hallway.

gailcalled's avatar

I have been cancer-free for 12 years, but when I have my yearly mammo scheduled, I start to freak out.

The last time, I had to pull over on the shoulder of the road and remind myself of where I was going (a hospital that I had driven to at least 200 times.) My mind went truly blank.

marinelife's avatar

I too can defocus during extremely stressful personal situations. I have to think really hard to do logical steps.

playthebanjo's avatar

Are men less prone to these types of reactions? I know that you wanted to keep the gender masked, but was the person female? I know that men and women deal with stress and stressors in different ways…just wondering if there is a generality that could be drawn. Of course, the sample size is 4 which is probably a bit small to really make a generalization. LOL

anonyjelly16's avatar

I have blanked out too—but there has never been a pattern and I don’t think I have ever forgotten to wipe.

marinelife's avatar

@atharkhan So glad to hear that!

wizard's avatar

I think men definitely process stress differently. I’ve never been so nervous as to where my mind spaces out due to stress.

wizard's avatar

I work good under stress =P

LunaFemme's avatar

You are probably defining short-term memory differently from the person in question. Your definition sounds like a medical / diagnostic type definition. I think many people define short-term memory differently.

For instance, have you ever walked into the kitchen to do something & then completely forgotten what u walked in there for? Then you walk back out & you remember what it was. I think of that as a short-term memory brain freeze.

DeezerQueue's avatar

Although I am not a professional, I do believe that in some cases we can be so consumed by events that what your friend is experiencing can be triggered.

For example, when my father died, I came back from viewing the body and felt completely overwhelmed. People were calling me and at some point, while taking one of those phone calls I started cleaning in the kitchen while on the phone. At some point I realized that I had already done this, and several times, because there were certain parts of the kitchen that were already glistening, although I had no recollection of having cleaned it before.

It was as if someone had shut down the portion of my brain that allowed me to think even remotely about things that would have required some extra level of thought, and only allowed me to function minimally beyond the scope of what I was dealing with at that moment, namely, the death of my father. The thought of balancing my checkbook, as an example, would have been out of the question. Although I felt a need to keep moving, I could only perform perfunctory tasks, and apparently on a repetitive basis.

I don’t think that it has as much to do with forgetfulness as it does with how we are able to psychologically cope when faced with what we perceive as an extreme amount of stress.

pekenoe's avatar

When you are under stress, a lot of the daily tasks that you do, you do on remote control.

You are so worried about whatever it is that that is all you think about, so daily hum drum tasks that do not require attention are done pretty much without you even being conscious of the fact.

I call those events “My out of body experiences” People that can deal with stress better have a lower level of these out of body trips.

My experience speaking, this is the way my body and mind interact but then, I never have been normal :-)

sbrannon's avatar

I call it not being in the now. We do go about our daily activities without really thinking about them. Instead, our minds are on other things (such as the bar) and we loose what we are actually doing at the moment.

I think that it is important when there are outside stress factors, such as an exam. To learn to also remain in the now by paying attention to the sound of the water, the warmth of it while taking a shower and so on. This will also help the person to relax, and will be able to focus better while studying for the exam, including taking the exam.

I do not think that it has anything to do with the body.

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