"The Centipede's Dilemma" is a poem about how sometimes if you think too much about something you normally do, it can become difficult to perform the task. This phenomena is sometimes called the "centipede effect" due to this poem which describes it so well!

The Centipede's Dilemma - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


This poem is attributed to Katherine Craster in Pinafore Poems (1871).


"'The Centipede's Dilemma' is a short poem that has lent its name to a psychological effect called the centipede effect or centipede syndrome. The centipede effect occurs when a normally automatic or unconscious activity is disrupted by consciousness of it or reflection on it. For example, a golfer thinking too closely about their swing or someone thinking too much about how they knot their tie may find their performance of the task impaired. The effect is also known as hyper-reflection or Humphrey's law after the English psychologist George Humphrey (1889 - 1966), who propounded it in 1923. As he wrote of the poem, 'This is a most psychological rhyme. It contains a profound truth which is illustrated daily in the lives of all of us'". -Wikipedia



Recording by Jason Pomerantz.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

According to Wikipedia, the original poem on which this is based is usually attributed to Katherine Craster (1841–1874) from "Pinafore Poems" (1871).