by on January 26, 2016
There's a thing called "heading disorientation" which is said to happen due to brain damage. However, there's something else called "developmental topographical disorientation" which is more severe, but people can be born with it, despite having a healthy brain and never getting any head injuries. I find it odd that Wiki only mentions people who had head injuries as examples of heading disorientation, if something more severe can happen without head injuries, then it's logical to conclude that the less severe version can also happen without head injuries.

Also, unlike the patients who recognize but can't get directions from landmarks, I can get direction from landmarks, but only one, that is to say, I know which way to go to get to the next landmark, but I know nothing else of my location. The phrasing was vague, so maybe the article meant that they don't know where they stand because of the landmark, which I don't know, I just know where to head in relation to it (left/right/etc.) to reach the next landmark.

I know Wiki isn't super reliable, but I have no sense of direction, so who knows, this might fit to a extent or maybe I have something else that's similar. It's hard to explain it to someone who has one, but I don't "feel" where I am, I see where I am and I know where I am from memories. Going from home to work or the store, I know where I came from, but can't point at the direction where I started, I just have a series of visual clues that I can follow to retrace my steps.

I can get from point A to point B by following a series of visual landmarks in a specific order. I can follow a different series of landmarks, also in a specific order, to get from point A to point C, but I am unable to get to point B to point C without memorizing another sequence of images in a specific order.

Real life example: if I have to drive vip passengers to the hotel, I do so by driving like this: work to wing road start, wing road start to university, university to hotel, university to wing road start, wing road start to work.

I know how to reach work and the university from the start of wing road, not the middle, not the end, and the "start" is the first part of it I see when I'm heading from home to work, the "end" is the part that's in front of work. So I need to return to the start of the road so I can follow the visual sequence in order and not get lost. I can't get to the hotel directly because I don't have a sequence of landmarks memorized for it, but I can see it from the university, so if I use that pattern, I'll be able to spot it.

Basically, I know where stuff is when I can see it. Notice that by going from the university to the start of wing road I'm going in the opposite direction to get back to work, but if I break the sequence, which I have tried to do in an attempt to take a shorter route, I become hopelessly lost and drive around until I spot another landmark and get back into the pattern. I can memorize new routes of course, but I have no mental map, just a bunch of pictures in a sequence connected only to the images before and after, but not to any other image in the sequence, since it's disorienting to try to change the order.

The easiest way to explain it is this: imagine that you're going someplace and you don't know where it is. You are given a series of photos with directions like this:

When you see this image, turn right.
When you see this image, keep going straight.
When you see this image, turn left.

You don't know the distance between the images, you just keep moving, until you see something in real life that matches the photo, then you follow the instructions. Now imagine that instead of having these photos and instructions conveniently on your phone, you have to memorize it and there are more than just 3 steps. Unless you have an amazing memory, you'll only be able to learn a few lists of images plus instructions.

Of course you might make yourself confused if you try to alter the pattern because you don't know the distance between each step and the speed at which you travel varies. You might see landmark 1 right away and landmark 2 fifteen minutes later, than landmark 3 will appear five minutes later, but the next time there's traffic in some areas and not so much in others so time isn't a reliable method to orient yourself. Though you can account for time normally, the concept of distance is something that you can only calculate when you see it. Anything obstructed from view or further than the horizon is something you can recall exists but not perceive in space.
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