Little kids repeat sounds and then words. My eldest said “ba” first. Everything that began with a B was “ba.” Since bottle was ba, all food was ba. Her blanket was ba. Next she said other short-A sounds (ma, da, ta), ki(tty), and then “baby.”
This is how sounds and words and concepts get programmed in, I think. She could recognize a cat face early on, from just a few basic features, and would point and name it — because I did this sometimes or because we had real cats she interacted with?
(Don’t remember what my second kid did, lolz.)
I knew a schizophrenic once who wanted to fit in at work and seem normal. (He was on drugs, functional at this point.) So, he said he was going to “reprogram” his brain. He made lists of things to say and do, such as wearing his red shirt and saying good morning to the boss. I didn’t find this weird after thinking about it, because most of us are already “programmed” to do these things naturally, but what if you’re not? It makes sense to try to fix your responses, right? Assuming this is what’s wrong with your socialization, not saying good morning when appropriate.
Then there’s my father, with some form of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s. He has always had a habit of repeating words for fun, because he loves words and sounds. He was an English major, adored literature and poetry. Can still recite a few pomes (or lines) by heart, though he can’t recall his best friend’s name half the time or the main street outside his house. When I visit him, he usually asks me about five times in the space of an hour how the girls are doing. He tells me the same neighborhood gossip every week for months as though it had just occurred last week.
It’s like he’s deprogramming. You know how when you delete a file, it’s still there, but marked with a character in front telling the normal program not to “see” it (then when you get the recovery program it can — miracle! — find it again)? I think that’s what the Alzheimery brain is like, cells/nerves tangled up in proteins, making the cells inaccessible (or killing them).
I’ve known people who seem like “real people,” but after I interact with them for a while, I notice that they’re almost robotic. They repeat themselves — stories and jokes and phrases. They are clearly not schizophrenic, nor Alzheimeric, it’s something else, not sure what. I’m reminded of the schizophrenic and wonder if they’ve programmed themselves, too, but at a higher, more complex level. They seem to use their programmed responses in lieu of real emotions. It’s interesting, and bizarre.
But then I wonder if we are all “robot people,” just with varying amounts of data plugged in. Putting aside the fact that we all have a finite lifespan, does any one of us have an infinite degree of creative output? I don’t like to think of myself in that way, obviously. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.