Sunday, February 2, 2014

ADHD and Giant Friggin' Robots

In this post I refer to the 2013 (and imo severely underrated) movie Pacific Rim, but you don't need to have watched it to understand the post, I promise. And no spoilers, either!

There's a theme that really is the core of the movie, which is that in order to pilot the eponymous giant robots, you need to have two pilots. Not only that, but two pilots sharing a neurological bond, and working in complete tandem with one another. It occurred to me that it could make a great metaphor for a lot of neuro-disorders, albeit unintentionally.

See, in order for the thing to work, the pilots have to be entirely in synch. Essentially two bodies controlled by one joint mind.  Interfere with their synchrony and disaster happens.

In a way, the entire human brain is the same thing. We think of ourselves as a single functional unit, but really we're not. There's the part of our brain that regulates emotion, the part of our brain that regulates motivation and impulse control, the part of our brain that processes sensory input, and so on and so forth. Each one not only has to function independently, they have to work in full consensus with each other. Basically every neurological disorder in existence can be traced back on some level to one part or another having trouble doing it's job.  Or to the different parts of the brain losing their synchrony.

Neurotypical people take for granted that their brains are going to function cohesively, and one part or another isn't going to suddenly blink out or slack off. But I know better. So much of my time is consumed with looking after the disparate bits of my own brain that I feel like I'm herding cats sometimes. (And yes, I'm aware of the slightly paradoxical idea that there's a "me" and a "my brain" and I think of them as separate. It's not quite as simple as that, but it works for the metaphor. Ask anyone else with ADHD.)

Of course, when the pilots of a Jaeger are out of synch, you've got a mountain sized robot with a nuclear core going haywire. When I have an out of synch brain, you just get a me-sized hot mess.