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View Full Version : Can you actually have trouble controlling your strength?



Alsikepike
08-20-2017, 04:45 AM
I'm writing a scene where one of my main characters is put into a coma and experimented on. They wake up and find they've been given enhanced strength, among other things. While writing this, I was reminded of that funny scene in The Amazing Spider-Man where Peter accidentally destroys various household items during his morning routine because he isn't immediately aware of his new strength. It got me wondering: can that actually happen? I'd assume you generally have an idea of how strong you are, and how fragile something is. I've never broken anything that way, but I'm not exactly the spitting image of power. Is there really such a thing as not knowing your own strength?

buz
08-20-2017, 05:09 AM
Well, one can have expectations of how much force needs to be applied to a thing, as well as how much force one can generate with maximum effort and, em, be wrong.

Like, "don't pull the starter cord of a lawnmower as hard as you can" is a lesson I learned the first time I tried to start a lawnmower. Without lawnmower-starting experience, I didn't really get how much force had to be applied, and I figured I wasn't strong enough to break it or anything, but uh, I was wrong ... :p

But when I'm familiar with a thing, like....mmm...let's say picking up a roll of toilet paper. I know I need to expend minimum effort. If I thought I wasn't strong enough, though--if I approached it like an 80 pound weight--I would be like "MAXIMUM FORCE JERK IT INTO THE AIR AS HARD AS POSSIBLE WITH BOTH HANDS LIFT WITH THE LEGS" --but, if that's toilet paper, it's going to fly up and hit the ceiling, yanno?

Er, I guess I'm saying, if one is familiar with one's "old strength" and suddenly you have "new strength," I can imagine your expectation of how much force you need to apply to a thing is out of whack at first? I mean that seems plausible to me, yah?

JetFueledCar
08-20-2017, 05:50 AM
I have absolutely picked things up thinking they were solid metal or stone and they go further than expected when they turn out to be plastic. I'm also pretty good at stopping the movement once I know they weigh half what I thought they did. So: Yes, IME, you can absolutely misjudge the force you need to accomplish a thing. I imagine it's similar when you wake up with many times the strength you had when you went to sleep. How long it would take you to figure out what was happening... That depends how sturdy the thing was that you accidentally broke, whether you had other people to compare yourself too, and how open you are to such things happening (after all, being in a coma, you'd expect to have LOST strength). Cognitive dissonance and blind disbelief are powerful things.

Silva
08-20-2017, 06:45 AM
I don't believe stories where some burly man "doesn't know his strength" and keeps accidentally hurting people even though he's been that strong for years or decades. I can suspend disbelief in a scenario where the strength is attained (or discovered) quickly, in such a short period of time that there hasn't been a chance to adapt to it yet.

Zaffiro
08-24-2017, 03:37 AM
You see the same thing in kids/teens who've had a sudden growth spurt. They end up hurting the friends or siblings who they've been roughhousing with for years, because they're exerting the same amount of effort as always, but all of a sudden that has a lot more impact.

In your scenario, I'd believe it.

Thomas Vail
08-24-2017, 04:37 AM
I don't believe stories where some burly man "doesn't know his strength" and keeps accidentally hurting people even though he's been that strong for years or decades. I can suspend disbelief in a scenario where the strength is attained (or discovered) quickly, in such a short period of time that there hasn't been a chance to adapt to it yet.
It certainly doesn't have to be that - a situation where someone who's got a great deal of strength uses it in a new way is a situation where it could come up. Like for the first time in their life they make a fist and hit someone as hard as they can. Or someone is in danger, and they grab them and throw them out of the way, not even thinking about how hard they're grabbing or moving.

Creative Cowboy
08-24-2017, 03:32 PM
Toddlers experience this, and babies especially. Talk to a parent for insights.

Famoustapu
08-30-2017, 03:48 PM
well, it's okay to try that XD new stories haha

J.Catherine
08-30-2017, 04:07 PM
My dyspraxia can make this happen a lot actually. Something about the two sides of my brain not having perfect connection or something...idek, but basically I've fucked up a couple of packets of rice because I used all my strength to open then and that tore them right down the middle instead of just opening a tiny slit on the top.

Also, when I got my wisdom teeth out (local anesthetic) I sat up really forcefully cause I thought it was going to be hard, and then almost fell over because I overestimated how much effort it was going to take to sit up.

Ergo, your 'ive-been-experimented-on-and-have-new-strength' guy waking up and accidentally breaking things is totally reasonable, cause after an experience like that you're working with old protocol for movement.

mongo
09-03-2017, 07:02 PM
I had to research this question for a sequence in one of my novels, as well. So I went to numerous medical and psychological studies sites.

As children, we subconsciously learn "inhibitors" when undertaking the action to reach out and move or pick up something. With the thought of intent to move the arm and flex the fingers, the brain sends signals to the appropriate musculature which then immediately begins moving at full strength and speed. After the muscles begin moving, other inhibitors come into play which modify the movement. This is why infants often hit themselves in the eye, or toddlers stab themselves with a fork. The inhibitors have not yet been learned or developed.

Inhibitors are meant to help keep us from injuring ourselves. With no inhibitors, we would use all of the strength in our arm to lift a larger stone, which could strain muscles, ligaments and connective tissues to the breaking-tearing point, not to mention tossing the stone much further than originally intended. Muscle damage, joint damage, etcetera, are avoided by the application of inhibitors. Humans are far stronger than we consciously realize. Thus the tales of women lifting cars off of babies. This often comes at the cost of damaging our bodies, though.

I can readily believe and accept a tale of a man waking from experimentation with unexpected new strength and doing all sorts of damage to himself and his surroundings before he learns the new inhibitor levels.

mongo