maandag 19 november 2012

A Love Note to the “Hyper-Sensitive” and “Takers-of-it-Too-Personally”

Today I would love to share a beautiful blog posting by Randy Buckley from het blog page on :

A Love Note to the “Hyper-Sensitive” and “Takers-of-it-Too-Personally”

by Randi
This post is inspired by a Facebook query and conversation with the deeply insightful and thoughtful, Erika Harris.  If this speaks to you, I encourage you to check out her website and gorgeous offerings. Thank you Erika for your grace and bright light.  

They say:  You’re too sensitive.  You take it too personally.  You’re thin-skinned.  You need to toughen up.

I hear: I have no idea how in touch with the world you are, nor can I grasp the depths of your empathy, from which I benefit. It’s like you can see colors that are naked to my eye.  You carry the awareness of others, of those far away, those unseen, in your heart on behalf of us all.  You are the torchbearer of the forgotten.  You bear the weight of other’s pain so they have a lifeline into the rest of humanity.  You are a barometer for how we are doing as a species.  I can’t imagine the space you hold for others to show up and feel cared for and acknowledged even when no one else can see that it’s you doing this.  You take on my share of pain when my words sting you.  You bear witness so that we know, so we cannot forget.  Your mere presence is equanimity.  Your energy is generously used in service of your ability to intuit and sense even the most subtle change in weather, perspective, mind or heart.  I’m not aware that your sensitivity can cause you physical pain.  You are a canary in the coal mine of our culture, and are wrecked by violent movies, news of pain, and mistreatment of fellow humans, animals, and the earth.  If I knew the depths of your consideration I’d be humbled and inspired.  I didn’t see or have the consideration that you are a gift and could be treasured.  Your light is omnipresent.  I don’t know to pay attention.  I don’t understand, even though I am the beneficiary of your grace. 

I say:  Thank you, friend.  Rest and take care.  We need you.

maandag 5 november 2012

Feeling like a victim

How highly sensitive people can become victims and what they can do to stop
Photo by nirrimi

In an earlier post, I wrote about the vulnerability of highly sensitive people to negative types of people, like narcissists. Because of their compassionate and empathetic nature, many HSPs unwittingly attract people who will use the HSP for their own gain and consequently drain the energy out of them in the process. When this kind of relationship becomes a pattern, it is all too easy for the HSP to take on the role of victim.

Assuming the victim role is not a natural or inevitable consequence of being highly sensitive, but it is a common one. Highly sensitive people are often misunderstood and misinterpreted as being socially anxious, depressed, insecure or possessing any number of other issues. When you are constantly being told that you are too shy, too reserved, too quiet and too sensitive, you begin to think there is something wrong with you. And when other people begin to take advantage of your sensitive nature, you can easily begin to feel like a victim.

But thinking of oneself as a victim is often a belief we’re not consciously aware of. Feelings of self-doubt, and believing that we somehow deserve the treatment we’re receiving, however unpleasant, often stems from childhood. A repeated belief in oneself as deserving of some kind of victimhood is usually the result of actual victimisation at an earlier stage, such as facing a bully at school or a controlling parent at home. After many years of mistreatment or even misunderstanding, the victim mentality becomes ingrained to the degree that people begin to believe it, even when they are not even aware of it.

Thinking of oneself as a victim is not only bad for your self-esteem, it’s also destructive to your relationships. People who are mired in victimhood expect to be treated badly, which means that they will become attracted to anyone who wants to use or abuse them and will actually feel uncomfortable around someone who treats them with unconditional love, simply because it feels so unfamiliar.

So how does a person who is highly sensitive to their environment and to the feelings of others protect themselves not only from the malevolent intentions of narcissists, but from the negative victim belief that increasingly develops in their own mind? Here are a few first steps:
• Recognise the words in your mind that repeat themselves, such as ‘I don’t deserve any better’ or ‘I’m such a loser’
• When you hear those familiar phrases in your mind, remember that they were probably spoken to you by someone who was suffering themselves, and didn’t know the real you
• Recognise that none of those negative things about you are true – you were told lies but now you now the truth – you are a kind, compassionate person who deserves unconditional love
• Stop accepting anyone who talks to you negatively or treats you badly.
• Create a new belief system for yourself, beginning with the belief that you are not a victim

It is the beliefs in our subconscious mind that often control our behaviours, actions, decisions and choices in life. If you suspect that you have been treated like a victim, take the first step by refusing to act like a victim any more. You don’t have to be angry, but you do need to stop beleiving the negative talk in your head. Once you do that and start thinking of yourself in a more positive way, your life will begin to change for the better and the narcissists will stop beating a path to your door. All they will find is a door that won’t open to anything but kindness.

maandag 1 oktober 2012


The correlation between being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and an emotional eater is too significant not to share.  It’s a pairing that I see often – and one that I see in myself.  The aim of this post is to share my knowledge of the Highly Sensitive Person in an effort to provide a sense of sanity to your emotional eating habits.   If you are anything like me, the tremendous shame surrounding your overeating has caused you to retreat from the world in an effort “fix” yourself.  When you begin to understand that the reason you are overeating is perfectly justified and completely sane – your mission to “fix” yourself will gently fade away.

So what exactly is a Highly Sensitive Person?  Being highly sensitive means you pick up more sensory inputs from your environment — you feel things more intensely (both your own feelings and those of others) and reflect deeply before acting.  In addition to having heightened sensory input, HSP’s are often physically sensitive to specific foods, making digestive issues and auto immune disorders commonplace.  Because of this high level of processing and analyzing, the body and mind are more likely to be overwhelmed, overstimulated and over aroused.   This is precisely where food comes into play.    

Overwhelm is the catalyst for unconsciously using food as a coping mechanism to oversensitivity of outside people, places, situations, and especially emotions.  Food becomes an escape route from a world that seems too much handle.  The HSP becomes a sponge for the stress of the world – literally absorbing it into their bodies.
Highly Sensitive People have a strong propensity to live in their heads – their strength lies in analysis.  The downside of hibernating in your head is that anxiety undoubtedly finds you there and will hold on to you for dear life.  When you feel yourself overwhelmed with anxiety, seeking solace with food – recognize your need to retreat.  When we honor that we are sensitive beings – we honor the part of us that needs time to recharge, restore and rest.  It’s a balance of finding life’s confines and the confines of our sensitive bodies – and finding a way to flourish within their boundaries.

I know being highly sensitive may seem like a weakness given it is masked in your overeating habits – but when you are not coping, your sensitivity will paradoxically be your greatest gift.  Because HSP’s have the capacity to see what others may miss, they are natural visionaries, peacemakers, creatives and humanitarians.  So you see, you are not a problem to be “fixed”, rather a tenderness to appreciate.

To gain a deeper understanding of the Highly Sensitive Person, I highly recommend Elaine Aron’s, The Highly Sensitive Person.


zondag 12 augustus 2012

Understanding the Highly Sensitivity Person: Sensitive, Introverted, or Both?

Today I would like to share a post by Elaine Aron as published in Psychology Today Published on July 21, 2011 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. in Attending to the Undervalued Self

A fresh approach to those times when you doubt your own worth

woensdag 11 juli 2012

10 Myths About Introverts

Photo credit @ Anna Wojnarowska


Labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions.

This article originally appeared at Carl Kings' website

Some time ago I was lucky enough to discover a book called, The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. It felt like someone had written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong. Not only had it explained many of my eccentricities, it helped me to redefine my entire life in a new and productive context.

Sure, anyone who knows me would say, “Duh! Why did it take you so long to realize you’re an Introvert?” It’s not that simple. The problem is that labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions. It’s more complex than that.

A section of Laney’s book (page 71 through page 75) maps out the human brain and explains how neuro-transmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of Introverts and Extroverts. If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.

Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)
So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (not taken directly from the book, but based on my own life experience):

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

“You cannot escape us, and to change us would lead to your demise.” <-- I made that up. I'm a screenwriter.

It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World. Like other minorities, Introverts can end up hating themselves and others because of the differences. If you think you are an Introvert, I recommend you research the topic and seek out other Introverts to compare notes. The burden is not entirely on Introverts to try and become "normal." Extroverts need to recognize and respect us, and we also need to respect ourselves.
About Carl King the author of : "So, You're a Creative Genius....Now What?"

Under the names Sir Millard Mulch and Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk, Carl King has recorded or performed with Devin Townsend, Marco Minnemann, and Virgil Donati. His 2005 album, How To Sell The Whole F#@!ing Universe To Everybody... Once And For All! was co-released through Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle's Mimicry Records. It was named as one of the top musical moments of 2005 in The San Francisco Bay Guardian. He is a pioneer drum-programmer and is endorsed by Toontrack's Drumkit From Hell software. The highest and lowest points of his music career were having lunch with (and then failing an invite-only bass audition for) Steve Vai. Carl has written for mental_floss, INK19, and 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. He lives in Los Angeles and has never owned a car.


woensdag 15 februari 2012

Labeling Kids with Bogus 'Mental Disorders'

20 million children are labeled with "mental disorders" that are based solely on a checklist of behaviors. There are no brain scans, x-rays, genetic or blood tests that can prove they are mentally ill, yet these children are prescribed dangerous and life-threatening psychiatric drugs. Child drugging is a $4.8 billion-a-year industry.

The psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars a year in order to convince the public, legislators and the press that psychiatric disorders such as Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc., are medical diseases on par with verifiable medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  This is simply a way to maintain their hold on a $84 billion dollar-a-year psychiatric drug industry that is based on marketing and not science.  Unlike real medical disease, there are no scientific tests to verify the medical existence of any psychiatric disorder.   Despite decades of trying to prove mental disorders are biological brain conditions, due to chemical imbalances or genetic factors, psychiatry has failed to prove  even one of their hundreds of so-called mental disorders is due to a faulty or “chemically imbalanced” brain.   To counter this obvious flaw in their push to medicalize behaviors, the psychiatric industry will claim that there are certain medical conditions that do not have a verifiable test so this is why there isn’t one for “mental illness.”  This is frankly a lame argument; Whereas there may be rare medical conditions that do not have a verifiable medical test, there are virtually no psychiatric disorders that can be verified medically as a physical abnormality/disease. Not one.
In fact the “brain scans” that have been pawned off as evidence that schizophrenia or depression are brain diseases, are simply bogus.  Most have not been done on drug naive patients, meaning someone who has not been on psychiatric drugs such as antipsychotic drugs, documented to cause brain atrophy (shrinkage).  Other brain scans have shown the brains of smaller children to show smaller brains in comparison to larger/older children and then claimed children with ADHD have smaller brains. None have been conclusively proven to verify mental disorders as abnormalities of the brain.
If there were such verifiable brain scans, or in fact any medical/scientific test that could show a physical/medical abnormality for any psychiatric disorder, the public would be getting such tests prior to being administered psychiatric drugs.
This is fact: There are no genetic tests, no brain scans, blood tests, chemical imbalance tests or X-rays that can scientifically/medically prove that any psychiatric disorder is a medical condition.  Period.  Whereas real diseases are discovered in labs, psychiatric disorders are invented by committee and voted into existence.


No one is saying that people don’t get depressed, sad, troubled, anxious, nervous or even sometimes act psychotic.  The question then is simple—is this  due to some mental “disease” that can be verified as one would verify cancer or a real medical condition?  And the answer is No.   For example, can soldiers returning from war experience extreme and often debilitating stress?  Yes.  It is something wrong with their brain?  No.  It’s the horrors of war. Can children become distracted and not pay attention?  Since time immemorial, the answer is yes.  But psychiatry has pathologized childhood behaviors into a “mental illness.”   The same is true of mothers.  Can a new mother become distraught after a joyous occasion such as the birth of a child?  Yes.  Is it a brain abnormality or mental disease?  No. And is the most humane solution to put these people on drugs documented by international regulatory agencies to cause mania, psychosis, worsening depression, heart attack, stroke, sudden death?  Or for new or nursing mothers to risk birth defects or damage to their infants from being prescribed such powerful drugs?
This is also true of people diagnosed “schizophrenic.” There is no medical test to verify someone has a brain abnormality or medical condition of schizophrenia. And while no one claims  people can’t become psychotic, the fact remains there is no biological evidence to support schizophrenia as a brain disease or chemical abnormality.  And consider this, if people do become psychotic, or irrational,  is it in fact caused by some  underlying medical (not psychiatric) problem?   And why did a 15-year multiple follow up study find that there was a 40% recovery rate for those diagnosed schizophrenic who did not take antipsychotics, versus a 5% rate for those who did?  What happened to their supposed “brain disease?” Did it simply vanish?  Moreover, if they could recover from such a mental state, do they deserve the “stigma” of “schizophrenia” still being part of their permanent medical record?  For life?   Think about it.  Imagine you were extremely overweight—obese.  You lose all the weight so you are no longer obese.  Yet your medical records continue to say that you are.
And if schizophrenia is in fact a “disease” despite the fact there is no medical or biological evidence (note we did not say speculation, or theories, but evidence) then why is it that psychiatrist Loren Mosher, the former Chief of Schizophrenia Research for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) would openly state there is no biological condition of schizophrenia as a disease or brain malfunction? And why didn’t the mental health industry take advantage of his 2-year-outcome studies proving that those diagnosed schizophrenic could recover without the use of drugs? Is it because this proved that recovery was possible and thereby disproved the theory that something was wrong with their brain? Or was it the fact that they recovered without the use of drugs, thereby threatening a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry?  Maybe this explains why Mosher was fired from his position at NIMH.

With a seemingly altruistic agenda, the fact is the campaign to end the “stigma” of mental illness is one driven and funded by those who benefit from more and more people being labeled mentally ill—pharma, psychiatry and pharmaceutical front groups such as  NAMI and CHADD to name but a few.   For example, take NAMI’s campaign to stop the “stigma” and “end discrimination” against the mentally ill—the “Founding Sponsors” were Abbott Labs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Pfizer, Novartis, SmithKline Beecham and Wyeth-Ayerst Labs. (For an in-depth look at what else Pharma funds and how this funding not only helps set mental health policies but campaigns such as this, read Pharmaceutical Industry Agenda Setting in Mental Health Policies at the bottom of this post)
The fact is that the  “stigmatization ” is coming from those that benefit from people being labeled/stigmatized with mental disorders that have no medical/biological evidence. Case in point, if you are rebellious, you are “stigmatized” with the label “oppositional defiant disorder.” If your kid acts like a kid he is “stigmatized” with the label “ADHD.” If you are sad, unhappy (even temporarily) you are “stigmatized” with the label “depressive” or “bi-polar disorder.” If you are shy you are “stigmatized” with the label “social anxiety disorder.” Moreover, you or your child are now stigmatized for life as this label, which is based solely on opinion, is now part of your medical record, despite the fact there is no medical evidence to prove you are “mentally ill”.

Increasing numbers of people  realize that just because a child fidgets, or loses pencils or toys—criteria for an “ADHD” diagnoses, this doesn’t mean a child is mentally ill.   In fact many now claim that children  diagnosed  “ADHD” are really suffering from lead toxicity, or allergies, or poor diet, or lack of reading skills, and not a mental “illness.”   The problem is that they continue to use the psychiatric label, ADHD, which stigmatizes a child as “mentally ill.”  If in fact a child suffers from led toxicity, then why not call it lead toxicity?  If he hasn’t been taught to read, why don’t we just say he hasn’t been taught to read?  The same is true of all psychiatric diagnoses—every single psychiatric label stigmatizes the person being labeled.    Psychiatric diagnoses are simply lists of behaviors that psychiatrists have compiled into little lists,  given a name,  added “disorder” on the end— then voted them into their billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)  as “legitimate.”   This is big, big business, but it isn’t even close to legitimate diagnoses.  Not in any medical or scientific context.   A profit making context? Sure.   Because coming up with new lists of behaviors and new “disorders” is the bedrock of the multi-billion dollar psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry.  Its how they get paid.   Remember, no psychiatric label, no billing insurance.  No psychiatric label, no drug prescribed.  So until we stop using these psychiatric labels,  which mean nothing other than what some psychiatrists decided was a mental “illness, ” we will never stop the “stigma.”  Because the psychiatric labels are backed by corporate interests—not medicine, and not science.


The primary reason people take psychiatric drugs is because they’ve been taught to believe they have a medical condition called a psychiatric disorder, which then justifies taking drugs to treat it.  This is a brilliant marketing campaign, but it is not science.  Any drug changes behavior or mood, whether cocaine, alcohol, marijuana or heroin. This does not mean someone who acts or feels differently on cocaine does so because they had a cocaine imbalance which the cocaine then corrected. It means that drugs changes mood, emotion and behavior.  But while the illicit use of drugs is universally frowned upon, and considered a bad way for people to deal with their problems, psychiatric drugs are made out to be “good” drugs, despite the fact many are more addictive than cocaine or heroin, and have side effects that rival such hardcore street drugs as LSD, heroin and crack cocaine.


Because the public has been so mislead by the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry on the dangers of psychiatric drugs, CCHR has created a one-of-a-kind, easy to search psychiatric drugs side effects database, containing all international studies and drug regulatory warnings that have been issued on both classes of drugs (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs, stimulants, etc) and brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ritalin etc.  These are provided by CCHR as a free public service to help people make educated decisions based on facts, not marketing campaigns

The larger problem is that the biological drug model (based on the bogus mental disorders are a disease marketing campaign) prevents governments from funding real medical solutions for people experiencing difficulty.  And there are workable, non-harmful medical treatments that do not receive government funding because the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars on advertising and lobbying efforts, including hundreds of their pharma funded “patient’s rights” groups to counter any medical modality that does not support their biological drug model of mental disorders as a disease. Why?  Billions of dollars in revenue for the psycho/pharma industry would be lost. This is an industry that time and again, has been proven to put profit above patients lives.
See various non-drug solutions/alternatives here:

Bron: Citizens Commission on Human Rights International

dinsdag 17 januari 2012

Love and Asperger's syndrome

He's gentle, unworldly, highly attentive and charmingly old-fashioned. The catch? The very things that make Keith so attractive to Sarah are symptoms of Asperger's. Anna Moore meets the couples living with this surprisingly common condition

Sarah Hendrickx and Keith Newton sit tilted towards one other, laughing a lot and disappearing down the occasional alley of in-jokes, as couples do when they're still in that early, besotted stage.

Keith has just arrived at Sarah's home in Hove and they're clearly delighted by the prospect of the next few days together. As always, Keith has switched off his mobile phone because, as he puts it, 'my time here is with Sarah'. They won't see anyone else - Keith has no friends of his own and doesn't feel comfortable socialising - but plan to eat lots of chocolate, walk and watch television. 'We spend a lot of time feeling smug,' says Sarah, 'because we see other couples who don't look very happy.'

In a few days, though, Keith will drive back to Wickham, Hampshire, 50 miles away, where he lives alone and works as a computer programmer. This will always be the case. Despite meeting five years ago, they won't 'progress' as other couples do. They'll neither live together nor have children. Although there's only a year between them, at 39 Keith is so gangly, gawky, boyish and cute that he could be ten years younger than he is.

Yet Sarah - who had a child at 19 and has two marriages behind her - is confident that few women could put up with him. 'God, he's so gorgeous he could have anyone - but not for long,' she says, laughing. 'Three or four months max… then, when the conversation turns to homes and babies and bank accounts, he'd be gone!' The two burst into laughter.

It wasn't always like this. The couple met through internet dating and the first stage of their relationship was fiery and fraught. To Sarah, Keith was 'a puzzle'. He'd plainly state that their blissful weekends were enough for him, that he'd never live with her or even move nearer. Sarah frequently found him selfish, cold and distant. Keith found Sarah hard work, demanding and 'screechy'.

Ultimately, only one thing allowed them to start again from scratch - they uncovered the reason for Keith's 'insensitivity', his aloofness, the fact that he could see no future with Sarah nor seemed to want one: Keith has Asperger's syndrome (AS).

Such a late diagnosis is not uncommon. Asperger's - a developmental condition that falls within the autism spectrum - was identified more than 60 years ago but became a standard diagnosis only in 1992 when it entered the World Health Organisation's diagnostic manual. As a result, the majority of adults with the syndrome almost certainly grew up without knowing they had it.
Estimates vary enormously as to the prevalence, but one in 100 people is thought to be on the autism spectrum, and it is more common in males by a ratio of nine to one. People with AS normally have above-average intelligence but great difficulties with empathy, communication and social interaction.

People with AS struggle to understand the unwritten social rules that help most of us act and speak appropriately. They find it hard to decipher figures of speech, facial expressions and tones of voice, and are frequently (but unintentionally) concise and literal to the point of rudeness. Since the 'real world' becomes an extremely stressful place, many retreat into their own safe haven of routine, solitude and obsessive special interests.

Today AS is likely to be recognised in a child, and his school will be told he needs special support. Twenty years ago, however, he'd be the 'geek' who didn't quite fit but was left to get on with it. And that struggle has continued into adulthood. For someone with AS, the minefield of relationships, marriage and parenthood can be the hardest part of all.

Louise Corbett manages the National Autistic Society (NAS) helpline and confirms that more calls are coming from couples who have recognised Asperger's in their relationship.
'When I started six years ago most of our calls were made by parents about their children,' she says. 'Now we get more adult-related calls than child-related.' As Asperger's seems to run in families, many women identify it in their husbands - or their husbands see it in themselves - only after their child has been diagnosed and they've read the literature. 'They call in absolute shock,' says Corbett. 'Often they've been experiencing difficulties for years without knowing why. There's no way around it: Asperger's can be very hard to live with.'

Maxine Aston, the author of Aspergers in Love (Jessica Kingsley, £14.95), is one of the few counsellors to work specifically with couples affected by AS. Her surveys and questionnaires from the past decade suggest that 75 per cent of such couples seek counselling. 'I'd almost say AS was a "relationship disorder",' she says. 'It affects communication, interaction and the ability to empathise. Any research will tell you they're the key ingredients for a successful relationship.' In Aston's experience - and desperate clients come from as far as Japan, New Zealand and Canada - Asperger's relationships follow a common pattern.
'A huge number seem to meet on dating websites,' she says. 'For someone with AS it's the perfect route.' Where once many people with AS were effectively barred from the dating game, the internet now provides the perfect point of entry (it has, as Aston puts it 'opened the floodgates').

Bypassing the enormous challenges involved in chatting someone up, it allows you to make a checklist and then select according to criteria. Although many people with AS are unemployed or underemployed, others are at the top of their profession. 'On paper they look amazing,' says Aston. 'Doctors, IT consultants, engineers, solicitors… They could be in their forties but have never married - so no baggage. The internet also allows them to build a rapport by email,' she continues. 'When they meet, women are often very charmed by this polite, gentle man with an old-fashioned appeal.'

This was certainly true for Sarah who found Keith completely different to anyone she had known. 'At the end of our first date he kissed my cheek and shook my hand,' she recalls. 'So different to all the guys that ply you with rioja. Keith seemed so untouched by needless fashion and peer pressure - I thought he was a Buddhist!'

However, in Aston's experience, this appeal can wear thin. 'Women fall in love and want to nurture this unworldly, slightly vulnerable man and help him grow up. As the relationship settles, though, they often find their own emotional needs aren't being met.
'Someone with AS probably has good intentions,' she goes on. 'He wants to make her happy but can't read the signs. At the beginning of the courtship the woman could become his obsession and she has probably never experienced such attention. Five years down the line, when he has focussed on something else and returns from work, yet again forgets to say hello and goes to the garage to take the car apart, things are very different. Women often say to me, "He's either got Asperger's or he's the most selfish man on the planet."'

Another problem can be the isolation. People with AS frequently have sensory difficulties - loud noise, strong smells and bright lights can be almost painful. This, coupled with difficulties in social interaction, means that parties, family gatherings and big birthdays drop off the radar.

'I once saw a couple in their eighties who, after 50 years of marriage, realised what the problem was,' says Aston. 'They decided to stay together, but she bought a cottage up the road and he visited for meals. She could have friends and family over and he had space for his routine and interests. Quite a few couples decide to stay together but live apart.'

Penny Jones, an accountant from Oxford, tried this, following the diagnosis of her husband Chris, an IT consultant, six years ago. Chris learnt about AS through a television programme while he was off work with stress. He subsequently saw a specialist who placed him high on the Asperger's scale.

'We got together in 1995 and he'd always been very unusual,' says Penny. 'There are lots of positives about Asperger's. I like its straightforwardness. There's no game-playing. Chris was the first person I had met who just let people be themselves. Most men want you to be a bit more like this or more like that. Chris just accepts you. He's also very intelligent - he has an IQ of over 150 - and very funny.'

However, AS was hard to live with. 'He did lock himself in the room with the computer,' she says. 'We were under the same roof but not together. Rarely did we share the preparation and clearing away of meals because Chris couldn't stand the noise of cutlery and crockery.'
When their children were born - Luke is nine and Beth is seven - Chris found the chaos of family life even more difficult. 'It wasn't predictable and calm enough. Family holidays we gave up on,' she says. 'He would try his best but by day three, without his familiarity, his routine, his computer, you could see all his systems shutting down. Then he'd spend each day with a large crate of beer in front of the television while I took the children out. Chris drank vast quantities to cope with Asperger's - that was another problem.'

When Chris moved out, the plan had been that they would remain a couple, but in the end this didn't work out. 'He drank far less and was clearly so much happier in his own space,' says Penny. 'He would spend a few hours with us, then go home to his bolthole and not talk to anyone for 24 hours. In the end, I couldn't cope with the massive periods of time alone.' The couple divorced last year.

Conventional counselling isn't recommended for AS couples - in fact, it frequently makes things worse. 'Counselling works on empathy,' says Maxine Aston, 'helping you understand each other's point of view. That won't happen if you have AS. You might be told to spend ten minutes a day talking about your emotions. Someone with AS can't do it, feels pressurised and disappointment sets in.' For this reason, the NAS has a (small) database of couples counsellors who specialise in AS - of which Aston is one.

There are many strategies that can help. One is to write things down instead of saying them. Another is for the non-Asperger's half in the relationship to spell things out in no uncertain terms. ('I am feeling sad and would like a hug'), rather than hope their partner will read the cues. However, the key is understanding the Asperger's label, accepting its limitations and adjusting expectations. 'It's almost like blaming it on the Asperger's,' says Aston.
The diagnosis that saved Keith and Sarah almost happened by accident - Sarah got a job working with ASpire, a charity that supports adults with Asperger's. The more she learnt, the more she recognised in Keith. 'At first, I thought it was just a mad, crazy Sarah idea,' he says. 'But as I researched it, the similarities became too great to ignore.'

Learning about AS, he says, was 'life-changing'. Suddenly what Sarah describes as his 'isolated, biscuit-eating life' made sense. Keith had been bullied at school and gone through university with no friends at all. He'd had only two jobs in his life doing the same thing and two very short-lived relationships (the first at 31). 'From an early age you try to join the world, but gradually, with rejection and not being able to understand social situations, it becomes too taxing,' he says. 'I wanted relationships with women but didn't have the confidence, the tools or the means.'

In Sarah, Keith has found the perfect partner. She works with AS adults for a living and now understands his thought processes and almost speaks his language. She can foresee stressful situations, accepts his frequent need to be alone and rarely asks for more than Keith can give.

In return, she has a charming, quirky, logical and attentive partner who is still touchingly old-fashioned - he always opens doors for her, carries her shopping and whips off her glasses to clean them if he sees they are dirty. Most importantly, the two clearly love each other's company, share the same sense of humour - and have co-written a book, Asperger Syndrome - A Love Story (Jessica Kingsley, £12.99), to show that happy endings are possible, even if they're not quite the endings originally envisaged.

There are no plans of marriage or moving in, and Keith certainly doesn't think he could cope with children. But they seem like soul mates. 'With Sarah, I get acceptance and understanding,' says Keith. 'I don't necessarily want to join the rest of the world - but I'd like someone to join me in mine. I'd like to know at the end of my life that there's been one person who got me. That's what Sarah does for me.'

You can order the book by clicking the link

zondag 15 januari 2012

Spatial Strengths

Spatial Strengths

Vivid Imagination

Picture thinkers have great—often wild—imaginations. They form strong, vibrant mental pictures that are often on the move. They make their own mind-movies as they read and listen. These mental movies can include voice-overs, close-ups, split screens, or panoramic shots. Anything they’ve ever seen on a screen they can imagine and use, including a zoom-in to enlarge something, an overlay of two or more images, transformation of one thing into another, rotation to see the other side of something, cartoon animation, or a graphic they can enter like a video game. They can organize information visually—laid out on an inner computer screen—and then file it away mentally to pull out later (handy for tests). Some picture thinkers may not know they have this mental computer capacity—so hampered are they by trying to listen and take notes at the same time (and then outline!). Picture Thinker’s spatial imaginations can run away with them in great leaps from one fantasy to another, but when under control, there is almost nothing they cannot bring into play in the arena of their mind’s eye.


Visualization takes imagination a step further. Picture thinkers are wonderful visualizers, although some need to be taught this skill to jumpstart it. Visualization is the most versatile tool in the picture thinker tool kit. It can be applied in every subject area in school and in life in general. Tapping into what you have visualized provides immediate rich experience that can be examined whenever you want to . It is the basis of a kind of mental organization and storage of information, ideas, and their interconnections that is like a computer and imitates a computer’s worldwide web potential.
There are two parts to visualization. There is the “cognitive scratch pad” that is like your computer screen where you input what you see. Then there is the long term storage of all the visuals that is like your computer memory. Visualization is so important that we devote an entire section of this book to the wonders of this tool. There we include sample classroom activities that build visualization skills, and we show how to use visualization in a wide variety of school situations. Here, we are just want to emphasize how important it is as a visual-spatial tool. Visualizing will work for all kinds of thinkers, but is home territory for picture thinkers.
One point. Good visual memory is needed for successful visualization. There are some picture thinkers, usually impatient ones, who never look at anything long enough to make an image. They just play with speed-of-light perceptions. These picture thinkers may need help to look “just a few nano-seconds longer” to form a real memory. Once this trick is learned, they will quickly pick up their innate visualization skills and then will be off and running.

Seeing the Big Picture

Perhaps this goes back to hunter-gatherer days. Upon encountering something new—a new subject, a new experience, some unknown object—picture thinkers want to know right away what that thing is. They want to get to the heart of it, what it IS. Once that need is satisfied, they can sit back and learn about the details, all the bits and pieces that part of the picture. To understand anything, they need to get its big picture first, which is why they ask so many questions. They are trying to hook this new thing to something that they already know. This questioning can be a frustrating time for them. They can feel stupid, impatient, upset, tense, as they “circle around something new,” trying out various viewpoints. Because they are active learners, not wanting to have ready-made explanations handed to them, they are hard to teach. They insist in understanding it in their own way.
It is hard for picture thinkers to experience significance if only parts are available to them without the essential whole. Remembering a detail and then attaching another detail doesn’t work for them. They must size the whole situation up and sort out what feels important to understand for themselves what something is about, and to make the right connections. Often they suddenly “see” the whole thing all at once, with everything in its place. Aha!

3-D Mastery

Although they may be called picture thinkers, visual-spatial learners are oriented to the dimension of space and see in 3D. Their world is far more complex than the flat worksheets or textbook pages in a classroom. Spatials often “see” ideas in a 3-dimensions like computer animation with depth. They look through both real and imagined space to see the whole of something and to check out the relationships and connections. This creates “inner territory” to explore. Picture thinkers can quickly scan all that their senses have taken in—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, sensing—and mentally connect the dots that spell out what is going on, or what the essence of something is We all do this all the time to some extent. It is called “perception.” But picture thinkers do it in spades. They take in 360 degrees of the space that surrounds them, making their input enormously richer and at the same time, more challenging to analyze. Having to pay attention a small set of details (like periods at the end of sentences) can feel like being pulled back from their normal range of awareness to a trivial pursuit. That tiny part better be important, or they discard it to return to scanning for significance.
Sometimes seen as having poor organization skills, picture thinkers have their order. It centers around significance, an emotional response. Rather than outline as step-by-step learners do, where main ideas stand out like trees on the plain, spatials respond to feelings about importance. If something strikes them as worthwhile, it becomes part of their web of essentials, a mental map of things worth paying attention to. Instead of outlines—so comfortable to the stepwise —a picture thinker’s scheme of reality is more like a 3D star map. The various stars and constellations stand out in different degrees of brightness, all shining against the dark space surrounding them and all interconnected in some way. Those connections are based on feelings and sensed importance.
At times, picture thinkers not only see but feel their way through concepts. They have kinesthetic input like those cyberspace reality games that evoke muscle response to what players “experience.” These spatials grope through space as if they could touch ideas and possibilities to find what is there. Einstein, who could visualize thought experiments, spoke of using “a kind of imagistic, kinesthetic shorthand” in his thinking process. (He was groping for words, typical of spatials when trying to explain themselves.) It seems he was trying to express the visual-spatial experience of thinking, seeing in imagination, and feeling muscular response to ideas. It is interesting that he recognized this as like “shorthand”—very minute, partial symbols, and tiny, nuanced muscle responses that could mark sensed relationships and also hold them in memory for future use. Spatials’ shorthand is different!
Certainly not all picture thinkers are Einsteins, but this explorative mode of operation is true for many of them, especially the deep thinkers and long processors. (They are covering a lot of mental territory and this takes time.) Thinking in 3-D mode means that all sorts of connections can be made in any dimension. Quantum physics and string theory would make us aware of more than 3 dimensions Spatials may lead the way to extraordinary feats of inner space exploration, making its complexity more approachable to us all, but that is another story.

Seeing Relationships

When spatials get the big picture, they see the whole of something and how the parts fit together. The relationship of the parts to each other and to the whole comes naturally to them. That is the way things are. They often think about putting something together with something else, like a cook trying out a new recipe. They wonder what that new relationship might like—how each would affect the other. Rather than sort things into categories, their most natural mode of thinking is to consider various new combinations of parts and what the flavor of the new relationship would be. Their ability to invent and explore goes along with this curiosity about how something might affect something else. For them, everything is interconnected and, of course, related. They are very aware of personal relationships among people as well as how things relate to one another. While they can become very good at sorting into categories, this skill is secondary to that of recognizing the balance of relationships.

Pattern Recognition

Scanning and the search for significance combine to produce a talent for pattern recognition in picture thinkers. It is part of their awareness of connections. If a pattern (recurring connection) exists, they will see it. This means, for one thing, that they will learn math facts better when made aware of the interconnecting number patterns than through rote memorization. Playing games that use number patterns works far better for these emotionally attuned learners than drilling, since their memories don’t hold isolated, disconnected facts. Picture thinkers immediately recognize patterns that are pointed out to them but really excel in finding their own, often seeing connections among things that are overlooked by others. Once pointed out, the connections make sense to others who wonder why they never noticed that.

Out-of-Box Thinking

An important aspect in understanding picture thinkers is that they need to think in their own way. They are uncomfortable with following some one else’s line of thought, partly because such linear thinking is not the way their minds operate. Sometimes they really just can’t follow along step by step. They can take in each step but without that Big Picture, the steps fade away. They don’t remember details well unless those details vibrate with significance, are tagged with their own feelings, or are part of as sudden gestalt. Picture thinkers blaze their own thought trail. Most need processing time to put together their own Big Picture. There seem to be no real steps in their thinking. Often they have a sudden insight that “things go together like this!” Either slowly or in a flash, a whole concept emerges, which may be brilliant or flawed. Picture thinkers need help in proving (or discarding) their new ideas. Trying them out is a good strategy in teaching them. If their idea actually works in a variety of situations, then it has validity. If not, it’s back to the spatial drawing board.
The tendency to originality can make teachers uncomfortable. Not only does it throw off lesson plans, but there is often an uncomfortable feeling that they are not doing their job, not teaching them. Shouldn’t they be the ones to tell spatials what they should know? They aren’t sure spatials have “got it right.” It is helpful to give spatials some processing time and to let them work in their own way, while insisting that they apply and test their ideas.

Radar Scanning

It is as if picture thinkers have radar out always scanning the environment, taking in every little thing. They are alert for changes, shifts in energy, or tones of voice in everything around them. They easily notice if some little thing they saw yesterday is missing today. They scan for signals that something is going to happen as well as for the general feel of things. They absorb what’s going on, intensely immersed in that experience. At school, if the lesson of the day can enter into their experience, these emotional picture thinkers will take it in and remember it forever. Otherwise, scanning makes picture thinkers vulnerable to distractibility. Their attention may be captured by all sorts of things. They can be equally aware of a bug bite on their arm, the way the lights are humming, someone’s simmering anger three rows away, or the relationship of a radius to its circumference.

Emotional Intensity

Picture thinkers live emotionally. They do not shut their feelings away to examine later. Instead, their emotions enliven, interpret, and underscore their experience all the time. Their emotions affect the way they think. Moods intertwine with learning, which means that their thinking can take off when they feel upbeat and confident. On the other hand, if they are upset, confused, angry, or depressed, picture thinkers may have difficulty learning much at all. It is as if their mind shuts down then, not able to function until their feelings are more positive. This may be why they try to liven things up with humor, games, tricks, and drama. Positive vibes just help them to learn better. It follows that picture thinkers will have days when they learn poorly, just as they will have days of remarkable accomplishment. Those around need to learn that variability is the name of the game..


Picture thinkers want life to be upbeat. They love humor, fun, excitement, and challenge. They are affronted by dullness and drudgery and will often sabotage a dreary atmosphere, creating excitement of some sort. They were usually happy, cheerful, fun-loving bon vivants as toddlers. Just as then, t hey have boundless curiosity, are natural explorers, and delight in discovery and excitement. Positive feelings are very important to them, partly because when they are down, they can be so very down. Their desire to liven things up—often by playing the clown or stirring up arguments—can be very annoying to a teacher with a lesson to impart, but they are (mostly) not behaving this way to be obstructive. They want life to be lively. Situations where games and play are used to aid comprehension or solve problems draw out the best in them. Teachers do well to make the most of picture thinkers’ creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and solutions that seem to come from nowhere. They add excitement and interest to learning.
In a classroom, hands-on participatory lessons work well for them—and for step-by-step learners too. Simulation games, board games created by students as part of a learning project, hands-on immersion learning situations, contests, construction and designing, art, music, poetry, skits, and dramatic enactment—all meet a deep need of picture thinkers to work in a rich, colorful, and stimulating environment. They remember their own experience best, so experiential lessons make their points memorably. Enlivening activities such as these also spice up things for step-by-step learners, who enjoy but won’t demand this kind of teaching. It is just these lively, upbeat, dramatic personality qualities that draw others to picture thinkers like a magnet. Life is more zestful around them, and classrooms are more exciting.

Source: by

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.