Shifting Interests

The story “Shifting Interests” makes it clear that people often have hidden skills which remain unknown to their nearest and dearest, sometimes for decades. It is impossible for us to tell what another person cannot do or does not know, and we are only aware of a small fragment of what he can do and does know. This is particularly true when working with children with behavioural problems or persons with mental health problems or disabilities.

After spending a long time in a coma, Dennis returned to the land of the living with reduced mental functions. He had forgotten many things, and was apathetic about most of the rest. Yet he often pointed to the sky and said, “Look, an F-14 Tomcat plane!” or “Wow, an Apache helicopter!” and described the engine types, performance, carrying capacity, cockpit equipment, crew and weapons of the aircraft he saw flying past. “He fought in the Korean War,” said his wife. “But I had no idea he still remembered all of this. We’ve been married for 30 years, and he’s never shown any interest in aircraft.”

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