People sometimes make mistakes when writing about the human body. Don't worry; we got your back. ;)
The Body Edit
- Every now and then the myth that a human only uses 10% of its brain pops up. This is not true; a human uses every part of its brain at some point, though only 10-15% will be active at a time.
- A hero will be injured by an arrow in a non-lethal area and will pull it out demonstrating superior willpower and strength. This is actually one of the worst things a character could do, because pulling the arrow backwards will cause even more damage. (Unless, of course, the arrow goes all the way through the wound and the head is broken off on the other side before removing the shaft.) An author may also have his/her character deal with an arrow wound by breaking off the shaft while the head is embedded in the body, which would result in the arrowhead becoming loose in the wound and, given the hero in question is likely to be going forth and doing more heroically active deeds, causing internal damage.
- Removing any sort of weapon from a stab wound also results in more bleeding than just leaving it in there. In many cases it's better not to remove, say, the arrow until some sort of bandage can be applied to slow the bleeding.
- Being stabbed or hit with a weapon or blunt weapon could easily result in internal bleeding, as many injuries do. Internal bleeding is essentially bleeding inside the body as a punctured organ or some such. It will take a while for internal bleeding to take its toll, often resulting in vomiting blood depending on the location of the injury. As blood loss worsens, blood pressure lowers, and the victim descends into dizziness, weakness, stupor, then unconsciousness. There will be no easy treatment for internal bleeding in a medieval setting- the best a character could do for the person would be to lay them on their side so fluids can drain from mouth, remove tight-fitting clothing, and keep the victim calm from shock.
- Victims of wounds in the stomach will not die immediately. Nor is the greatest danger from stomach acid. The victim will die due to a great amount bacteria from the digestive system entering the bloodstream and infecting the body. The only remedy would be immediate powerful intravenous antibiotics.
- On the subject of acid, the concentration of an acid is much more significant in considering its effects than its strength.
- A seizure cannot be stopped and must be allowed to run its course. Holding the character down will only increase the risk of injury for both parties. Simply try to catch them before they hurt themselves and role them over on their side so they don't choke if they vomit.
- It is impossible to swallow your tongue during a seizure - the frenulum of the tongue prevents this. When someone is having a seizure and a character puts a stick in their mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue, they're just making it more likely that the victim will choke on the stick or break their jaw biting through it, if it's a harder object. The myth of swallowing the tongue during a seizure most likely came from this fact as people can bite off large chunks of their tongues and choke on them. If this is the case, only a soft, easy to handle object should be used and as little should be inserted as possible. The character doing this must be careful to avoid being bitten and must be ready at a moment's notice to remove the object to prevent any blockage of the airway. This is very dangerous and should be done with extreme caution. More often than not however, the seizing character will have their jaw clamped tightly shut. There is little anyone can do about this and must be ready immediately after the seizure is over to gently open the jaw to make sure nothing if blocking the airway.
- Poison is ingested whereas venom is injected. A poisonous animal is one that secretes poison, through the skin or organs, but requires a predator to consume it to cause damage. If, however, the animal has a way to actively transfer the poison (injection through fangs or stinger), it is referred to as venomous. In Earth, there are very few venomous mammals; shrews and platypus are notable exceptions.
- It is not uncommon for a villain to poison some one's drink, meal, etc., and have said person drop dead instantly after only a few sips. In truth, even the most powerful poisons (especially those available in ancient times) would take at least a few minutes to work, not to mention a perceptible volume of the toxin.
Medical Equipment and Procedures Edit
- Most TV shows conveniently forget that a gel must be applied to the paddles of a defibrillator before use. Note: some modern defibrillators (and all Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs) come with adhesive pads that already contain the gel.
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: CPR doesn't bring people back to life. CPR is a method to keep oxygenated blood pumping to vital organs when the heart isn't doing it. With very few exceptions, only a defibrillator can restart a stopped heart. If one is nearby, trained professionals and CPR certified persons will get that first. See above for more information on proper use of defibrillators.
Mental Health Edit
Amnesia and Trauma Edit
Amnesia is a relatively popular gimmick (and is considered a strong Mary Sue indicator). However, most people seem to like to use this to have a character forget who he or she is, often for unexplained reasons. Trauma and abuse are also often abused in stories by uneducated authors.
- There are two types of amnesia: anterograde and retrograde. With anterograde amnesia, the patient forgets what has happened before, often the past shortly before the accident but can also be a large amount of time. He or she may entirely forget who he or she is. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to lay down new memories. Again, it may occur for only a few minutes or hours after the accident, or it can be a permanent problem. People with short-term memory loss from this type of amnesia are usually able to remember things if they learn them several times in a row. Some, however, are not able to put down any new memories at all.
- Amnesia generally is the cause of brain damage from severe illness attacking nerves or a head injury. Young children might forget their past if they are very frightened or are told not to think about it, but amnesia due to trauma is not necessarily possible and is less likely to seem believable. There should usually be a real reason for amnesia.
- Head injury or illness can cause a range of other mental problems, such as difficulty speaking, emotional control issues, or problems connecting what is seen to what should be done about it.
- Trauma and severe or long-term abuse sometimes leads to posttraumatic stress disorder, which causes flashbacks of the traumatic event, avoidance of anything that reminds the sufferer of that event, constant tension and fear, and sometimes emotional problems or numbness. This occurs in a significant amount of people who suffer trauma (possibly 8% of all people). Since this has only recently been recognized as a disorder, and it can be awkward for a main character to have it, it is understandable that many authors leave it out of their story, but this should not continue, since it is a real problem. Many people who have suffered from this disorder would appreciate it if it occurred in a realistic manner in a story.
- Acute stress (shock) is a less common reaction to trauma that is more favored by authors. The initial reaction can lead to a feeling of being dazed, panic, and even amnesia surrounding the traumatic event or inability to speak. It cannot last more than four weeks, or it becomes a different disorder.
- According to all recent knowledge, trauma and abuse do not cause children (or adults) to remain mute for a long period of time or to speak in one situation and not another. This is a common incorrect explanation for selective mutism, which is usually due to anxiety the child was born with, or sudden, total mutism despite ability to speak, which, if it exists, is extremely rare.
Misused Terms Edit
- Antisocial Personality Disorder refers to a disorder in which a person has no respect for social norms or the feelings of others. The term "antisocial" is most often used to describe shyness; however, shy people are often the most pro-social people. Avoidant personality disorder refers to social anxiety.
- OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is often used to refer to someone who is a perfectionist. In fact, perfectionism and pack-rat behavior falls under Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is unrelated.
- OCD actually refers to a disorder in which people have disturbing and frightening thoughts (such as the danger of getting germs on their hands or the idea that they are going to kill or hurt somebody) and feels the necessity of performing rituals to avoid this (such as washing hands or walking backwards a certain number of steps). The rituals temporarily make them feel better, but anxiety returns more powerfully later. On the occasion that authors understand this, they usually focus on handwashing. This is one of the more common compulsions, but not everyone with OCD cares about germs at all.
- In books that will be published off the internet, it may be better to use "angst" with its original meaning, anxiety. In popular culture, it usually refers to depression or gloominess, especially when concerning teenagers, but this is a more recently created meaning.