twas blind but now i see

by Andrea Elizabeth

After seeing The Brain on PBS which profiled Mike Mays who lost his sight at age 3 and regained it at 46 to find that he has great difficulty interpreting what his new eyes are showing him, I wondered about Christ’s instant healings of the blind. Years later, Mike Mays still uses his guide dog when going to new places, mostly because of a lack of spatial interpretation.

Wikipedia’s article on Recovery from Blindness also talks about Mike Mays, and the problem called visual agnosia which William Molyneux proposed as a thought experiment to John Locke.

Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube? To which the acute and judicious proposer answers: ‘Not. For though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, and how a cube, affects his touch; yet he has not yet attained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so…’

And Wikipedia answered my question about Jesus’ healed blind people:

The following account of visual agnosia from a sudden recovery of sight is from the Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 8: “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly!”

I wonder how many other conditions require a second healing. Like someone who grows up without a father. Say they find a father figure but are surprised they still walk with a painful limp. Coping mechanisms become a hard habit to break. And maybe at some point the brain can’t restructure itself to accommodate proper functioning in this life.