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Tracking Down the "Embarrassing Memory" Noise

Compelled to Blurt... | Ask Metafilter

Like a lot of people in this Ask Metafilter thread, I thought I was the only person in the universe who made an unconscious little noise when remembering something stupid I did or said.

It's not especially loud, in fact it's often under my breath. The sound is usually just a quiet grunt, or a word/syllable or two. If I remember an embarrassing conversation, I tend to blurt out a random word of the conversation (as in, I'm replaying the dialogue in my head but then all the sudden one of the words pops out of my mouth). If it happens while I'm reading, I tend to blurt out one or two of the words that happen to be under my eyes at the moment.

For context, my tic (which can also be heard when someone near me does something dumb) sounds a little like the noise Leo Bloom makes after he falls on his keys (00:34). "Ooooooom...."

The Question to You

Anyone else do this? Anybody out there qualified to talk about the psychology or neuroscience behind this apparent phenomenon? I’ll bet there’s a cool, scientific name for it.

waderockett's picture

Embarrassing Memories: The Musical

With me it might start as a "Hmm" or a grunt or a muttered "Oh, God." It feels like the sound's been wrenched out of me.

The problem is that the memory of one stupid, embarrassing thing I did triggers a cascade of other horrible memories. When this happens, I find myself singing or humming quietly in a desperate attempt to distract my brain. It's sort of like the murderer in Bester's SF novel The Demolished Man blanking his mind against telepaths by thinking of a catchy commercial jingle.

Musical moments:

On two separate occasions in college I thought my friends would appreciate knowing that their ex-girlfriends had been hitting on me.

Once I tried to bond with a co-worker by noting that we were both "kind of twitchy." He responded with a long, cold, silent stare.

Another time I...

...oh, God.

There's no business like show business, there's no business I know...




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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