Thursday, 29 March 2012

Blip: Coping with Low Latent Inhibition


This post is an at-length response to a comment we recently received (which is now live on the ‘about us’ section of the blog) so it will be more or less directly addressed to ‘J’ rather than the fairly passive voice I usually adopt.

Thankyou, J, for your willingness to go in to such detail despite it being an opening piece of correspondence. Firstly I will deal with your questions:

-It’s a near impossible thing to actually diagnose sadly and because it is hardly known about there is little/no treatment a doctor can offer. Also, there are almost no provisions set up to help people cope or to aid people in work environments so obtaining a diagnosis is difficult and relatively useless.

-Your second question is regarding ways to prevent your irritability and to raise your tolerance levels and actually I can’t answer this here, this will be the subject for the remainder of the post.

I agree with you about ‘Prison Break’; since it came out more and more people say they have LLI like a kind of fashion statement and at the very least, they become misinformed about it. As I’m sure will be said over and over again during the struggle to put LLI (and the whole spectrum of non-specific mental oddities) into the public forum; Low Latent Inhibition is not a super power.

Just about everything you’ve described fits with my experience of LLI. At school I was considered to be very smart but was also predicted to fail most of my GCSEs, I was always given bad reports and predictions because I “lacked concentration”; I was subjected to degrading progress report sessions because I too apparently needed “special attention”. Despite this, I did very well on my GCSEs and happily went on to do A-levels. 

I’ve not held a job for a long time either for many reasons including the annoying effects other people have on me. I’m glad that you’ve found it more suitable to be self-employed; I can certainly see the benefits of keeping yourself away from as many distractions as you can. 

As you may be aware, LLI doesn’t enhance a person’s senses or cognitive prowess; it is simply the decreased function of the inhibition mechanism of the brain (that is, the function that removes unnecessary and irrelevant sensory information, streams of thought and connected memories/dreams from our conscious thought.) In simpler terms: the inability or reduced ability to ignore.

This has some devastating effects on the mind. Being exposed to everything around you all at once with no breaks can cause severe stress; it can distract and divert focus easily. It’s very easy to see the adverse effects of having little to no concentration on a child. My teachers, for example, had low expectations of me because they believed me to be ignorant as I didn’t pay full attention in class (usually because I had long since moved on from the material being covered.)

A combination of intelligence and being constantly surrounded by all the information taken in and generated by the brain leads to a persistent state of mind wherein the subject will analyse everything in a strictly logical way. Everything can be reduced to algebra; everything in the human mind is just a complicated and extended equation or algorithm being applied. Even emotions can be rationalised and removed from yourself; in the end, emotions are just a manipulation method that your mind employs against you because you’re not trusted to get the job done. 

Evolutionarily speaking, your body is just a vessel for your DNA and your mind is your evolutionary mechanism for survival. As humans we don’t have sharp claws or pointy teeth, we don’t have powerful crushing muscles or a rapid and efficient running method. What we have is a mind that allows us to think our way out of problems. This doesn’t mean we are aiming higher though; our mind just helps us reproduce in the same way that a lion’s claws aids its survival. 

Emotions are an influential tool when it comes to reproduction; if you are controlled by your emotions and they make you feel lusty towards a partner and aggressive towards a threat of that relationship, it will naturally push you into reproducing. Our emotions having such a control over us led us, a long time ago and over a long period of time, to forge a form of all-covering covenant between mankind for the protection and proliferation of our species and it was called society.

My point here is that being free from your emotions opens you up and shows you the everyday insanity of society. This is why it leads to sociopathy which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t a murderous or evil nature but is simply being unaffected by social rules. Technically speaking I am sociopathic. I’ve never killed or tortured an animal, I have no desire to bring down a government or go on a kill-happy rampage. I just don’t care to let societies’ opinions on taboos sway me and my actions. 

I find that half of the problems caused by LLI come from this sense of logical apathy. I find myself motivated by intellectual curiosity rather than pointless emotions. I can attempt to understand others’ emotions as an entirely intellectual exercise; I will also try to manipulate them to my own advantage. It’s the pragmatic thing to do. However I lack what most people would conventionally call ‘empathy’ much like you do. 

The natural progression of this is towards the very same place your comment next reaches: becoming a social pariah, of sorts. I too have few friends; I have no need of them and their idiosyncrasies annoy me too much to be worth putting up with. This is partially down to the logical mind I mentioned earlier and partially down to the sensory overload that I so often feel. 

Moving on to that for a moment, I’d say the odd thing about noticing all of the little things around you is that you would think (as some people do) that the minor noises and smells and so on would be treated as equal to the primary sensory information. My experience has shown though that because tiny noises of people’s clothes moving and subdued breathing annoy me so much I end up concentrating on them and in fact, promoting them to the focus of my thought.

As for the social element mentioned a moment ago; the world favours the popular and the socially relevant so if social acceptance and furthering goals in life that may require a certain amount of sociability is something you aspire to do, then you may always have difficulty.
I totally agree with you that the scarce information that there is regarding LLI too often glamorises it as if it is a supercomputer built into people’s minds.  I appreciate the near unique way it has allowed me to experience life, although I have only become aware of the contrast between my experience of life and others’ experiences of life by talking to my wife at great length. 

Hopefully this is hitting a chord with you, that is, if you haven’t stopped reading yet.
It’s about time I moved on to how I can help you with your specific problems. The main one seems to be sensory overload: something I am all too familiar with. Perhaps “overload” doesn’t best capture what you described but what I have to say applies to the irritability caused by passive annoyances too.

Those with an inquisitive nature often seek to improve this logical function of the mind. This may offer an explanation for a strong interest in fixing/breaking things and solving puzzles. It applies to me anyway; I like to test and tweak my mind to improve it to work more efficiently. Stretching myself intellectually (learning multiple languages, studying a wide array of subjects both formally and informally, playing chess, solving Rubik’s Cubes etc.) helps to placate my mind with regards to thought streams.

Creative outlets can calm my mind down somewhat; I play the guitar and by conditioning myself to concentrate on the guitar and little else I can, sometimes, achieve a degree of serenity if only for a short time.

As for raising tolerance levels for the little things that drive you crazy, it is, as so much is, quite subjective. If you have control over your mind, patience and determination you can train yourself to deal with this more effectively. Naturally, you can’t learn to just ignore the noise, that’s the very function that your mind is lacking. You can at least learn to accept it, to stay as calm as you can and stop trying to shut it out.

There are no simple psychological remedies I’m afraid; it’s down, instead, to how well you can cope with it yourself. Finding ways to release the tension is probably your best course of action. Also, your girlfriend will be able to help you as Pop helps me.

This may sound extreme but we have tailored our entire life together with the priority being on my mental state. Everything is planned and organised, our days are ordered and productive, our activities are practiced and efficient. It helps. Pop now fully understands my near lack of emotions and my slightly cold and matter-of-fact nature as being part of who I am. It’s not a mark of distance nor of actual frustration, it is just me being honest in a direct and often lateral way. 

I apologise for rambling on for such a long time, this post rather wrote itself. Rambling like this is also splendid relief by the way; allowing myself to pour out a straight stream of thought like this. If, by some miracle or astounding patience, you’ve made it this far I can only hope that something in amongst all of this has helped. If only in a minor way. 

Maybe us both having the chance to vent frustrations, as you put it, is enough. 

If nothing else, I can tell you that reading of the time you’ve had the past 26 years has certainly touched me.
 
Kind regards,

Blip *signature placeholder*


Side note: (A straight list compiled by Blip and Pop of ways that we compensate for Blip’s LLI, This may not work across the board but you also may be able to take something from it.) 

-Creative outlets (of any kind, eg. Musical instruments, Rubik’s Cubes, artistic exploration, making jewellery.)

-Reducing stress as at all costs.

-Resolving and preventing arguments by turning them into logical and productive discussions.

-Pop being in charge of organising appointments and remembering dates (and being willing to dispense said information at will.)

-Pop acting as Blips ‘Information Overflow’ thus taking the lead with important information when Blip is ‘full’.

-Pop telling Blip where she’s going and what she’s doing and why at all times.

-Both parties always making sure sentences are finished so that the thought is complete.

-Physical organisation (keeping things in the flat in their proper place, not obsessively just ordered.)

-‘Cooldown’ times with low lighting, no noise (or relaxing music) and no major decisions or discussions

-Blocking out annoying qualia by overriding it (such as having a T.V. loud enough to drown out frustrating noises from the street.)

-Understanding that people’s frustration toward Blip ‘over-analysing’ everything just comes from a position of ignorance. 

-Developing a network of mental ‘programs’ to deal with everything and anything (like a computer.)

-Avoiding people where possible.

-Focusing one’s mind on intellectual or artistic interests (Title picture reference)

-Identifying potential stress-causing situations and properly preparing (especially with Pop’s warning.)

8 comments:

  1. Hi Blip,

    thank you for taking the time to write such an in depth response. I read your post the day after you wrote it but did not have the time to write a reply.

    As with your reply to my initial comment, the above also rings true for what I have experienced.

    The rationalisation of everything and looking at all occurrences objectively I find to be a major pain. It brews what I can only imagine is an image of arrogance in the eyes of those observing me.

    I perceive things in a way that very few people identify with. Clubbing for example was something everyone I knew wanted to do when they were 18/19. I never had an urge to want to go and thought it was strange in the sense that people believed that binge drinking to the point of vomiting and destroying their vital organs every weekend is some kind of attractive mating ritual.

    Whilst I know evolution is in a constant state of flux, I often wonder if we are still in the middle of a major evolutionary shift and without sounding like a spiritualist or like those who listen to late night conspiracy radio talk shows (sweeping generalisation I know), I can't help but feel there is a significant divide in the mentality of people in the world in which we live. This is not based on intelligence - I know people who are incredibly intelligent, well read and yet cannot resist the urge to go out every weekend drink until they are collapsed in a pool of their own vomit.

    The rationalisation also leads to another strange mental 'habit' if you will. If I am thinking freely, I have ideas and opinions about events for example I might think: *look at those people being sick in the club, don't they realise how ridiculous they look*. After this initial thought, I begin to rationalise my own thoughts for example: *why am I even paying attention to what that person is doing, I couldn't care less - I must look ridiculous to them as I am clearly sober and not really enjoying myself - why am I even here - I am here because X, Y & Z wanted to go clubbing and I haven't seen them for a few months and I need to maintain the friendship/relationship with them - I have to be 'social' every now and then in order to maintain the relationship as I may need X, Y or Z in the future - *. I imagine it seems like a very selfish way of thinking and have wondered in the past if it is the way everyone thinks and it's just not spoken about or whether it is an LLI issue (perhaps that's a question for Pop :-) ).

    Since reading your post I have been trying out some of the things you have suggested and it seems to help. The simplest which was to simply stop trying to shut out the noise and accept it is something I now think every time I begin to get frustrated. I still try to dampen the sound as much as possibly (close windows if neighbours are noisy) but have come to realise that no level of anger or frustration will change it and I must accept it is there. Secondly, I usually use a shower rather than a bath but I recently found that lying in the bath and putting my head (just past my ears) underwater, I can decrease a lot of noise and limit it only to gentle noises from the movement of water, my heartbeat and breathing. For the first time in what I imagine is months, I felt what was about 95% at peace - which is good!

    I imagine the comment word count will try and cut me off soon so I will say thank you and wish you both all the best in the future. I look forward to reading further posts on the blippop website :-)

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    1. You're quite welcome, we are more than happy to provide help with this kind of thing; LLI has played a major role in forming our lifestyle.

      Obsessive rationalisation can seem a pain to others and often leads to me being called picky but it also allows me to be productive and efficient with everything I do.

      I don't think I could agree more about clubbing, I've found myself out at night before watching people spew their non-sensical drunken ramblings at eachother before spewing, with equal vigour, their guts over the street thinking about how absurd a situation this is. I prefer to use my time in exploits of a productive and interesting nature and drinking, for me, contains neither of those elements.

      That kind of strict, unemotional analysis is not foreign to me at all; I look at everything as a logical equation that should be streamlined to help me benefit from each situation. I think everybody is selfish, they just don't admit it or don't know it. LLI helped me realise and accept the inherent selfishness of human nature.

      I get called selfish, arrogant and cold plenty but I don't let it deter me from what I want to do and how I want do be.

      We are very glad that our advice is, in some way, paying off. Hopefully if you continue dissecting your surroundings, you should be able to find more ways to relax and compensate for what many call an "overactive" brain.

      Thanks for the support, do look forward to more LLI themed posts. It will be a common topic.

      Blip

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    2. Okay, it's been 4 years since this post was published, but I feel the need to argue that having LLI doesn't necessarily mean being anti-social or anti-drinking. I believe that LLI does make you feel alienated from others emotionally, however being able to see and analyse very subtle patterns of how the people you interact with behave, talk, respond to certain things, what they hide from you etc. can give you the ability to be very talented at communication. I like to see this as a net of dots (people) that are all woven together with so many strings (actions, thoughts, intentions, needs etc.) and LLI gives you the ability to consciously shift this pattern for your own good.
      And also for the sake of drinking, clubbing etc. - I think it comes down to other factors of your personality/environment, and not necessarily to LLI. I have LLI and can also assure you that there have been times in my life when these actions have falsely served the purpose of numbing all of the excessive information and made me feel ''humanlike’’ for a moment. However, the worst part was probably waking up every morning the same person you were before and then having to analyse and overcome every wrong decision you made.
      So yes, as I said, I believe that LLI is not just a singular self-explanatory trait, I think it interacts with so many other factors, such as your upbringing, environment, other personality defining factors such as MBTI and even which of the 9 intelligence types are dominant for you.
      So yes, ‘’watching others spew their non-sensical drunken ramblings at each other before spewing their guts over the street thinking about how absurd a situation this is’’ doesn’t make you a special snowflake in this case.

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    3. I agree :)

      Any factors of my LLI are naturally quite tied up in all other factors of the rest of my life and separating them out into strands would be impossible so I can't truly say which elements of my personality are down to which influencing factors.

      Sorry to hear I'm not a special snowflake :P

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  2. Wow,...interesting, helpful, relate-able, and insightful,.......thanks guys!

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    1. You're quite welcome. We'll do anythign to help spread information like this that is so often neglected.

      Blip

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  3. Hi Blip

    i found your your writing occasionally. I am thankful to share same point of view like you.

    You re right. It took me 25 years till today, the day i found your writing.

    Rico

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  4. A sadly entertaining post which provides so much truth so many of people out there should read.

    With 20 years of having this perpetual trait I could add a couple of pointers:

    I) If one enjoys classical music, one must go to a high level concert with 'high quality' audience (the smaller the better) and aim for highly structural music. The very thought and feeling of collective and complete silence is rather strange (for us rationalists) at first but then 'it' literally disenthralls you. True understanding comes from personal experience in this case.

    II) When one has an important event or trip late in the day , one with LLI absolutely MUST start the day with cognitive work and immerse oneself in analysis of some-sort. The worst thing one might do is to try and 'guess' the endless possibilities of what might happen and most often emotions will take over stressing you out.

    III) When your mind is buzzing beyond your usual-elevated degree of rationalizing and you need a break, go for a run (or any hard physical activity) till you almost drop dead. Regardless whether it will take you 30 minutes or 1h and 30 minutes just exert yourself. Being physically tired helps to reduce my mental activity and sometimes I don't care that much about sound the car makes when passing by my house.

    Love your blog.

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