Image of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (Oliver Sacks) - The President's Speech

ROFL. This is not only hysterical but also incredibly insightful.

tl/dr: Some people who have language disorders are unable to understand the meaning of words. Instead, they rely on facial expression and tone. In other words, they compensate their linguistic incompetency with an infallible precision and sensitivity to "tone" and feeling. People who have a particular language disorder called aphasia can't be lied to because they can't grasp the words being used to deceive. A psychologist describes the patients in an psych ward listing to Ronald Reagan's presidential speech and laughing hysterically. Why? Because, even though most in the ward couldn't understand the words, they could tell by their other perceptions that he was lying. A patient who had tonal agnosia (a former English teacher) said of the president's speech: "He is not cogent. He does not speak good prose. His word-use is improper. Either he is brain-damaged, or he has something to conceal."

Here then was the paradox of the President's speech. We normals - aided, doubtless, by our wish to be fooled, were indeed well and truly fooled. ('Populus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur'). And so cunningly was deceptive word-use combined with deceptive tone, that only the brain-damaged remained intact, undeceived.

You can find the full book online here or buy it here.

You need to be logged in to comment.
search only within psychology

About psychology


A community for sharing and scientifically-based discussion of psychological material. Please do not solicit psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice. It is unethical for professionals to respond to such inquiries, and those not qualified shouldn't respond anyway.

Latest Activity