I’m sure many of y’all have heard the quote about insanity attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
One of the classes I’m taking this semester is called “Human Information Processing” which has been really interesting as I’ve learned a lot of unique things about how the brain works. One of the concepts that I just love, (perhaps it’s because the word itself sounds cool) is called “perseveration”. According to my notes, perseveration is when we have a tendency to seek out and attend only to cues that confirm/reinforce what we believe to be true. Under stress, our attention narrows only to approaches that support our initial assessment of what action is needed, and we actively avoid anything that tells us this is the wrong approach. In turn, even when our initial approach fails, we keep doing it. It’s a phenomenon experienced by everyone (especially in unfamiliar situations) that causes us to repeatedly try the same approach to one problem, no matter how many times it fails. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what Einstein’s definition states as insanity. Since this effect is seen in all people at different times…There you have it. We’re all crazy.