Some people seem to be real experts at losing things. Sometimes they just don’t know where they left their keys, phone or glasses. They leave their umbrella everywhere, lose their pencils and never know who they borrowed a book from. Other times the situation is a little more serious. These are people who lose money, credit cards, identity documents, or possessions of great value.
But why does this happen? Looking at the available documentation, there seems to be no agreement on this. The explanation of the phenomenon depends on the approach or perspective with which we analyze it. Some give a cognitive explanation, associated with memory and attention. Others claim it is a condition determined by genetics.
There is also a psychoanalytic explanation that people’s unconscious will is of great importance. Psychoanalysis suggests that this situation is due to the unconscious desire to lose things for some not entirely rational reason. If all this were not enough, there are also those who argue that forgetfulness is linked to intelligence. How then to deal with this problem?
Losing things: a question of genes?
The University of Bonn conducted a study of people with the habit of losing objects. The aim was to identify biological patterns common to each other. It was found that 75% of the respondents had a variation in the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2).
The researchers concluded that this genetic mutation made them more prone to forgetfulness. The key word is “prone”. As is often the case, the existence of these biomarkers alone does not explain certain behaviors. A predisposition or a potential is not a guarantee of success.
Research director Sebastian Markett also pointed out that at least half of the forgetfulness could be explained by a genetic predisposition. This, in turn, would correspond to at least 10 mutations in the genes.
Loss of attention and intelligence
The most frequent explanation of the tendency to lose things concerns a cognitive factor: attention. We are not fully focused on what we are doing and that is why those little accidents happen that prevent us from remembering where, for example, our glasses are.
It usually happens because our mind is busy solving another problem that it prioritizes. Or because we do something, but we think about something else, or we are in multitasking mode. This dispersion is an obstacle to the storage, preservation and retrieval of information.
According to some experts, when a person is highly intelligent, they tend to become absorbed in their thoughts to the point of forgetting the outside world (the stereotype of the absent-minded genius). People with higher IQs would be particularly inattentive to minor or everyday matters and therefore would often end up losing their belongings.
The unconscious desire
From the psychoanalytic point of view, these losses would be the expression of an unconscious desire. In other words, the unconscious would impose itself on the rational mind as a function of an unrecognized desire. Things that you want to lose are lost. It is an expression of rejection of them.
In this way, losing the keys would manifest the desire not to enter the house anymore or not to be present in some situation that we foresee in it. Losing your glasses would involve a subconscious desire not to want to see a situation or not to engage in something that is rejected. It is also possible that things are left in a specific place because we subconsciously want to reward the person who lives or works in that place.
Sometimes more complex forces are involved, which is when we subconsciously want to punish ourselves. For example, a person sticks his hand into his pocket and drops some bills. Perhaps in the past few days she had refused to buy something her family needed or feels guilty about the financial misfortune of a loved one.
In any case, systematic and repeated distraction over time is a rather worrying phenomenon both for the person who suffers from it and for those around him. For example, when a careless person is given a task, it is natural to ask “will he remember it or not?”. This same uncertainty will also affect the person in question who will ask himself “will I remember it or not?”.
To address this genetic basis that predisposes us to forgetfulness, we can implement a systematic coping strategy that includes proper organization (agenda, notes, alarms, requests for reminders to others…).