Monday, 16 April 2012

Blip: Coping with Low Latent Inhibition #2

This is my second post in what I hadn’t expected to become a series but has nonetheless done so. We received a comment from somebody expressing an interest, for personal and explained reasons, in ‘LLI’ and this post, continuing the style of the first, will be directed at the commenter.

Firstly, thank you mysterious “C” for your brash and openly worded comment, I hope to address it as best I can. 

On a small and slightly self-absorbed note: We’re rather amazed that a friend of yours posted about our blog on facebook, we don’t use it but are aware of its significance in current culture. I can’t accurately infer from your mention that this post had a positive outlook of the blog but a mention is a mention, so cheers for that.

I am quite glad that you don’t agree with our opinions on most things; one of our primary intentions of this blog is to provoke consideration and discussion of many issues and if you disagree then we have succeeded in that regard. 

I aim to mention Prison Break as little as possible due to its misrepresentation of LLI but seeing as you mentioned it I thought I would briefly explain why people connect it to LLI. Put simply, the main character is supposed to have LLI and wields it like some kind of super power, he has the observation and reasoning skills (as well as the almost clairvoyant grasp of the future) of a deity. The way it is portrayed is absurd and insulting.

I can say, to begin with, that pretty much everything you’ve said rings true with us with regards to my direct experience but also to accounts we’ve heard/read from others. It is a shame that your mother feels it necessary to talk to you in such a way, though I can identify with inspiring those types of criticisms in others. I think being viewed as “arrogant” is exceedingly common because of people with LLI have a tendency to conduct themselves; I get called arrogant by everybody at one time or another, it seems to have become a natural part of accepting me. 

Wouldn’t it be a much better world if everyone stopped telling people like us to “stop thinking” or “stop over analysing everything”? We can’t help it and it’s not just being picky.

Your diction, spelling and culture references lead me to believe that you are American; you mentioned in your comment that you have a daughter. Despite these cultural and lifestyle canyons between us, it seems that we have closely comparable experiences of life. I have a strong degree of perfectionism and an obsession with little details. I believe this, like so many other elements of my personality, comes from my mathematical analysis processes; I apply myself to every area of life through rigorously perfected systems and procedures; not being able to follow my emotions like most people do, I have prioritised productivity and efficiency over all else, this means that I spend much of my time obsessing over tiny details to finely tune everything. 

“I find a tool that I have stored in secondary memory and bring it to working memory to use it in another area of life” This is a great description of the systems; they can be learnt from new situations or synthesised to perform a given function but the key factor seems to be the application. You, like me, appear to utilise them unsparingly, to expunge inefficiency rather than pander to emotions. 

I’ve heard that some people, when faced with the flood of information that low latent inhibition provides, react in a way that is a detriment to their mental health and capability. It’s good to hear that you have managed to focus it on learning and problem solving as so many haven’t. 

I haven’t yet dealt much with the social aspects of being so unemotional and analytical but it is clearly something that will cause great distress for some. I was socially awkward as a child too, I was also socially awkward as a teenager and I would probably call myself socially awkward now because of my isolation from social circles. I have been able to discover how many social situations and relationships work, albeit to a limited degree, and have been able to learn to manipulate some of these situations for my own pragmatic ends. 

The key difference here, however, is that you have become “fantastic” at making new friends and despite the fact that it makes you feel uncomfortable, you are still making friends happily whereas I have learnt a little about getting people to like me in simple situations but I have no desire to maintain social relationships or to have any kind of regular social interaction. I am happy with just myself and I can accept Pop because our marriage is mutually beneficial. 

At this point the comment turns towards the main issue with LLI, the thing that causes the analytical outlook and thus the thing that causes all of the problems/benefits that can be seen in LLI. Noticing everything is a major burden that the media (and some of the low latent inhibition literature on the internet) seem to neglect to discuss; the frustration that obsessive and involuntary observation causes can be catastrophic: stress is naturally something everybody experiences and everybody attempts to reduce but what is there to do when every slight noise, every alteration in nearby light levels, every miniscule shift in room temperature is registered and obsessed about in a process that is impossible to switch off?

The ‘answer’ (for lack of an urgently needed better term) is obvious but is necessary to repeat and remember: reduce stimuli where possible, where not possible: reduce stress in general. You can use anything to reduce stress; most people have a method to chill out that they find works for them and those personal approaches are vital. 

As for the mental elements that this causes (the having to finish thoughts/sentences that you mentioned, the keeping track of many things at once, the overload of thought streams), there is no way to solve this problem but there are ways to alleviate the difficulties:

-I take time whenever it is needed to reduce external stimuli to an absolute minimum, including new thought streams and I concentrate purely on sorting out the information that has built up (like a rising “In” pile on a crowded office desk). 

-I find the best ways possible to stay organised with my days so I have fewer arbitrary things to think about. (Pop helps wonderfully for this; she takes over many of the organisation duties, especially those concerned with dates and times.)

-Accept that others will always have difficulty understanding your unconventional views on life as well as difficulty accepting that it isn’t your fault and you can’t help it. This means you should take what other people say with a pinch of salt and when explaining yourself fails, just try to get what you can out of the conversation, organise the results and move on.

The physical elements can seem harder to deal with (you even mention the pain it causes you to be bugged by repetitive or loud noises and bright lights) but it is possible to apply a similar formula to them too. You can try to organise and filter the sensory data yourself, consciously. Accept it, justify it and file it away for later use. This helps for some people anyway, it is something that requires practice but with time it can provide a passive relief to the stresses of sensory overload. In my experience it has worked better for sound than with light; bright lights still sting my eyes and bring on a quick headache but minor sounds, I can deal with a little better.

I know what you mean about crowds and people’s obliviousness; watching people wander around, not noticing a thing, barely registering while they bump into each other is frustrating at best. This is partly why I strive to spend as little time as possible around others. When I do have contact with others, people seem to respond well to me because of my chameleonic behaviour, I suppose I must do a good job, based on how people react but it isn’t what I’m aiming for.

As for emotions, you have pretty much summed up an experience that I think many people can identify with; I can only speak for myself of course and it certainly fits with me. I, like you, scan and search for related information to determine how I am supposed to feel when I’m talking to someone. When I draw a blank, I can end up getting very confused and sometimes just completely stuck, freezing up like a computer. 

Your comment really made a lot of sense, more sense than most material that is centred on LLI. 

I truly hope that this post, along with the other posts both past and future, helps you in some way, if only to identify with someone who shares a similar experience
We would both be very happy if you continued to comment or post in some way with updates of your life and further discoveries. 

One final note: We are not trying to spread information about low latent inhibition alone, it is just a rare behavioural trait that shares the greatest number of symptoms with my abnormal mind state. The key phrase here is non-specific mental irregularities; we want to help anybody and everybody cope with their particular psychological configuration. We think people should be more accepting of the individuality displayed in one’s psyche rather than seek for labels to marginalise it. 

Thank you for your message, I have assuredly learnt from it. 

Blip *signature placeholder (it's about time we got these sorted out)


  1. Blip,

    Thank you for posting that!! Yes, the FB mention was positive. One commenter said something like, "I can't believe you're thinking this way." Something to the effect that the link was of something "terrible". Naturally, out of curiosity, I opened the link and there it was. Your words in front of my eyes, describing how I've felt my entire life. I immediately thanked my friend and reposted the link on my page. My friends were thankful as well and I received many comments and much advice regarding LLI. Once again, I feel like I am the "last to know".

    On a side-note: One of the things mentioned was how annoying it is to have RLS (restless leg syndrome) in conjunction with LLI. Ugh, is it ever!

    It's nice to feel understood now, at some level. Like you mentioned, I am perceived to be arrogant by so many, if not all of the people I meet. I am shocked that so many people consider me to be intimidating. I am small in stature; however, I have constantly been told that if I were to fight someone, they would be afraid and that I would definitely win. I don't understand why people think I would fight. I have learned to be straight-forward and honest in my communication with others, but I don't understand how that translates into people viewing me as being violent or "mean". On the contrary, I tend to make peace with people by taking on that chameleon role, much like you do. Although I am excellent at reading people and I feel as if I "wear my heart on my sleeve", I am often misperceived. Perhaps my facial expressions are harsh; I don't know and I really don't care.

  2. I think it is smart for you to keep to yourself more often. I probably should do that. I tend to vary my approach when it comes to relationships with people. I like to spend time with others, but it is terribly difficult for me. I analyze too much. Once I have too much stimulation and analyzing going on in my head, I tend to keep to myself for a while; except that this leads to a kind of depression because I cannot stop analyzing things. Interaction with others is a double-edged sword in that regard. In order to keep myself from insanity, I must have quiet from analyzing an interaction repeatedly, but once I have more interaction, I have more to analyze. I don't know how to fix this problem.

    Thank you for your insight and for sharing how you alleviate the difficulties. The light problem, I haven't been able to resolve, except to control what I have in my power to control. I try to distract myself from sounds by leaving the area where I hear them, but when I return, the sounds are still there. I don't know how you mean to apply a formula for physical elements. That whirring sound is going on outside right now and I am doing all I can not to go crazy. The sound of my clock, the ticking of the keys as I type this, the "dings" from new messages, a random child's high-pitched scream, and the neighbor's opening and slamming their front door are all competing for attention and it makes me physically hurt to process it all.

    I will try to figure out a process to filter it all. After a while, my mind seems to just take a break (kind of like the emotional freeze we've both talked about), but I can't do anything with my mind at that point. The break isn't very long and it is almost like a glitch in a machine, or more like a meditative state. I use this state when I have intense physical pain. There is no functionality of my mind while I go into this meditative state, but if it is interrupted by a stimulus (someone asking questions and I have to scan for a response), then I suffer the physical consequence of a painful migraine. I cannot think and meditate at the same time.

    I am glad that you had a positive response to my comment. The things that set us apart from others in society are things that bring us closer to each other. It is so good to find others who can relate to me. I just thought these were things that made me insane. I mention how much light hurts me and people don't generally respond at all; it's as if they think I am lying. When I complain about light or sound, people view me as being ridiculous. I never understood that. It has made people, even my best friends, act rudely toward me because they think I am just trying to find things to complain about.

    I sensed that I had some kind of medical problem, especially recently, because this is not typical for most people to feel this way. Thank you for giving me insight and for helping me to sort things out.


    1. You’re more than welcome for the post; you took the time to write to us at length, it is only fair that I return the favour.

      We’re glad to hear that our blog means something to someone; we will press on and continue regardless. The emotional/psychological/social elements of our life and the effects of LLI on those areas of both our lives will persist in being major topics of our posts, so perhaps we will both learn more about it as time goes on.

      It’s funny how you mention harsh facial expressions because everybody tells me that either my face is inexpressive or that I look miserable all of the time; just because I don’t wear an ear-to-ear fake as hell grin in all situations doesn’t mean I’m miserable, only that I’m don’t feel it necessary to qualify my ‘feelings’ by displaying them on my face.

      I will say that avoiding people is a great way to reduce the unnecessary stresses and hide from the annoying idiosyncrasies of the general public however it is very much a personal choice of mine as you may have a different opinion/dependency on social interaction. The dilemma between enforced interaction analysis and required spots of quiet is ever present in the conundrum of how much social contact is best.

      It’s comforting to hear that so many of my traits that we have pondered over whether to ascribe them to LLI or not are present in you too, such as the freezing up. It’s really quite therapeutic: reading your messages and seeing our similarities.

      People moan at me for complaining too much too, they also don’t believe many of my ‘symptoms’ are real or that I’m exaggerating most of the effects and some of them think I’m lying for attention seeking purposes. It is all part of the fabric of life and I’ve learnt to ignore them, for the most part.

      We are more pleased than you could know that we have spread even the tiniest bit of helpful information to someone we can relate to.



  3. Have you ever had that bad guiltlike feeling that just sticks around and your mind gets blank when you try to interact with others and some muscels pulls shortly and unwillingly?

    Regards L

    1. I certainly do. I've always considered myself as plagued with guilt about the smallest things but I think 'guilt-like' would indeed be a better way to describe it.

      As for interacting with others, whether related or not, my mind always goes blank. I can mediate a discussion but just me and one other person is a difficult combination. I just start concentrating on how much I want them to leave and how much I want to be left alone and it seems to drive thoughts about the conversation away, then I have nothing to say and if I can't rely on the other person, I'm totally stuck and then we're left with an awkward silence.

      Wouldn't the world be better if we didn't have to interact? At least not directly. Maybe a friendly nod at a delivery man when he gives me all my stuff I've ordered (by way of avoiding shop contact) but other than that, just a darkened room and the interesting corners of the internet.

      Thanks for the comment, equally mysterious 'L'

      Wait, 'L'? O_o

      Didn't you die? Yagami Light got the better of you, I thought.

      A reference not received is knowledge gained :)


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