Wednesday, 6 March 2013

5 ways to improve public life with low latent inhibition

Low latent inhibition, as I’ve talked about before and as we’ve both discussed plenty before, is a somewhat debilitating ‘condition’. I hesitate to call it a condition because it’s just a label used to describe an extreme presentation of a very rare behavioural trait. ‘Condition’ makes it seem like a disease.

To recap on what we’ve said before, low latent inhibition is the inability, or reduced ability, to filter incoming information in the mind. This refers to both sensory information and cognitive information. In simple terms, I spend all my time being assaulted, at the very front of my mind, with the colour, shape, supposed consistency and texture etc. of every physical object around me. The other half I mentioned, cognitive, is perhaps the worst of the two. This means that not only the physical traits of such things force their presence at the forefront of my mind but also any connections my mind can come up with. That’s the root of it really. Seeing a table produces in me an instant and unstable series of attempts to define what a table is, what traits an object needs to be a table. This then becomes a massive ordeal of calling up every bit of information, every picture and sound I have stored up in any way related to tables or traits of table-ness. This is going on all the time with all the objects around me.

More than the objects, though, are the thought processes that continue on to infinity. Every thought is surrounded by a web of connections, which, in turn, create more thoughts and so on. With time, practice, routine, consideration, order and discipline, it is possible to remain calm and reduce the ‘symptoms’, for lack of a better term. That is to say, in an environment I am very familiar with, such as our flat, that I have control over and that rarely has new material introduced into it and under calm, organised and ordered circumstances, it will be much easier to deal with than an in open, uncontrolled environment full of chaos and confusion.

There are things that can be done, though, to help the difficulties that can arise in a public situation:

(some of these may seem obvious but it’s worth saying them nonetheless)

Look down: Don’t actively expose yourself to more things to think about. i.e. look down wherever possible. I don’t scan my environment much, my passive thought structure seems to do that enough for me so when I’m outside, I keep my head down and give my mind a fighting chance.

Hats: Similar to the first point and almost so obvious that it seems illogical that you would overlook it: Wear a hat. I wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep adverse weather off of me (and my hair, admittedly) and I noticed that when I had it on it obscured my vision enough to help significantly with staying calm.

Music: Headphones work wonders for removing even more background sensory information. I have to have a wealth of musical styles because the wrong music at the wrong time can be just as harmful. I also build up plenty of free podcasts by people such as Noam Chomsky. These are great because they’re so single-tracked. They allow concentration on a thin line of thought.

De-briefing: this is the word I use to describe to process of ordering my mind whenever I get a free moment and particularly whenever I come back from being outside or in any abnormal situation. I think over everything I can remember and attempt to round things off nicely. I create ‘knots’ at the end of thought processes and reboot my system to keep things stable. The adverse effects of not doing this are not instantly available but instead show up later. Rather like not cleaning your kitchen. It will show after a while when the mould sets in. Well if I don’t regularly take the time to keep my mind maintained, it will fail me more often and become overloaded more easily.

Avoid social contact: this is certainly one I follow, for many reasons. I have a certain dislike for hypocrisy, binary reduction arguments of complex issues, uninteresting and/or simplistic comments and views on complicated subjects, boring jokes and fake smiles/laughs. Naturally, this means I dislike people. I prefer to busy myself with study of all kinds. I fulfil myself intellectually, which is another coping mechanism that I can explore in greater detail in another post, rather than filling my days with empty, faceless socialisation. I can’t say that this final tip will work for anyone; only that it works for me greatly. People introduce both facetious boredom into the equation but also a myriad of confusing things to think about like trying to read social signs, facial expressions, inflections, accents, clothing trends and the list goes on.

Hopefully, this will give some insight into low latent inhibition to some and others may be able to take something useful from my little list. 

I’m bored now.

Go away. 


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