2 Lessons Learned From Anosognosia

2 Lessons Learned From Anosognosia

The other day, I came across a new word, Anosognosia.  It is one of those $2.50 words and basically means ‘a lack of insight’.  Some individuals with mental illness manifest this as evidence by their poor judgment over taking medications.  It is helping me understand that when some individuals just don’t ‘get it’, it can well be more than their lack of education.


images-2Anosognosia is more than a refusing to understand, but is a malfunction of the brain.  It is anatomical.

I recently read that 50% of individuals with schizophrenia and 40% of those with bipolar disorder report moderate to severe impairment in their awareness of their illness. One good way we can help people having anosognosia is by ‘being there’.  Support them.   Don’t give up on them.

And, while some of you may be breathing a sigh of relief that this malady has not attached itself to you, I want to posit the fact that all of us to some extent have poor insight…

One example of  this can be found in brainteasers, like the following:

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 6.10.59 PM Do you have the insight to be able to connect these 9 dots with one line without crossing over that line?


While you may still be wrapping your mind around that one, the reality is that though you may be different from someone who has anosognia in that you don’t have an anatomical problem with your level of insight, there is the similarity that you both have lapses of insight.

This awareness can either haunt us at our jobs, or it can liberate us towards excellence.


The Haunting

We can become hypochondriacs, always looking over our shoulders to see if someone actually witnessed that hair-brained action of ours.


Moving towards Excellence

By noting that our relationship with our Clients is much more than a bond formed through our paycheck, we can begin to understand how the very things that we need to care for ourselves during such struggles are SIMILAR to what our Clients need.

For instance, I need people to cut me slack when I goof up.  Though I don’t want them to condone my behavior, I do want them to show some empathy to the extent that their actions would convey their behavior of there go I but for the grace of God.



If we can only remember –and embrace- the reality that people are people first and foremost, we will continue to move towards dismantling the stigma that is attached to disabilities, while helping the very people we care for to recognize their value as people.

Because of this, I have been developing a workbook, which I am calling Unlimited Potential:  Worksheets for Building Relationships.  Soon to be published.  You might want to subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss it.

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 6.22.44 AM



Blessings on your journey







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