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ADhD, Autism, Learning Styles, Multiple Intelligence, my.Diary Entries, Sensitivities, Toxicity

Part 4: Intensity as a pathway to personal change

Making sense of environmental toxics

The denaturalization our environments has serious consequences to our entire body, mind and spirituality which originally formed out of our communion with nature. Adding sensorial settings to the realm of influence, it becomes evident that environments can be very toxic to humans.  Why wouldn’t our young be influenced by changes in our environment. Why wouldn’t our youngsters’ brains adapt to these environments and as a consequence behave differently?

A toxic world can only poison  dreamweavers, HSPs, creatives, and anyone gifted with sensory intelligence.

Given that  geneticists have discovered that RNA, the junk DNA, is not junk but the adaptable part of our genes. They exact to environmental stimuli and signal the DNA to change the type of protein it produces, depending on what the environment requires. DNA is not all preprogrammed, it changes to programming to fit the environment. Environmental genetic is as potent as environmental behavior. I would not be surprised if in the case of extremely highly multi-sensory gifted children the only way to survive overstimulation is to shut down their communication and sensory systems in order not to go insane. Signaling the genes to shut off gifts sensory inputs to save the person.

Holistic health practitioners know that decreasing the stimuli in their environment on all levels supports them in the presence of the children and honoring the richness of silence may also help.

Trying to get us not to go insane with the saturation of inputs that bombard us in the city we came to Nicaragua and what a change it has made. The kids and us are so much healthier… This calm and peace we are experiencing is allowing us to retrain ourselves in one of the most toxic, yet, least discussed topic in the sensory therapy material I have looked at, dealing with parental stress and emotions.

In the book, how to raise your kids without raising your voice, Sarah Radcliffe discusses how we as adults must show our children how to deal constructively with our strongest emotions, anger and stress.  As she explains it, when we are angry, and quietly brewing, the suppressed anger spits into the house like a poisonous gas, toxic to all that come in contact with it.  Stress works the same way.

Having been away from mainstream culture for a few month, I have been shocked at the negativity all visitors bring with them. The first few days on their stays, their thoughts and discourse is full of hidden anger and other negative emotions. As they relax and slow down, the tendencies lessen….

One thing about children, and shamans, is that they are empathic. Imagine living your life sensing every ones anger, sadness, stress, bitterness, resentment, criticism, rage, etc… Imagine, feeling it and in some cases thinking it as your own.  In western societies as expressing strong emotions is becoming increasingly unacceptable, people are living in states of constant denial and suppression just to be able to survive the day. To sensitive people, children and shamans, however, none of these things are hidden. They feel them for those who hide them. They act out the thoughts of others, having mirror neurons much more active than most. They become the negative thoughts other have of them and behave “badly”, aggressively, angrily, etc. when a empath child is being disobedient, he/she is usually picking up on the insecurities of their parents and acting them out… And of course get punished for such behaviors. So, given that most elements in their environments that they can pay attention to is toxic to them, could it be that they turn of and stop paying attention just to be at peace and not get anxious themselves?

Paying attention with senses or focus has just become too painful. But if the multi sensory gifted  are the artist, healers, scientist, innovators of tomorrow and they are no longer able to cope with our society. How are we to continue evolving ? The social norms within our culture and institutions are not only places of systemic discrimination against races, physical abilities and genders but also those with sensory difference. The “cure” is in us not institutions or traditions.

Intensity as a pathway to personal change

We must reduce toxicity in our children’s lives if we are to continue to exist.
Multi sensory gifted have an innate potential for development that is determined by a higher sensitivity and by a related tendency to develop individual differences and autonomy from the group (Aron, 1996), and as such to change our societies.

I agree with Lesley Sword that instead of blocking, censoring or repressing emotions and sensorial knowledge, it is crucial to help these children accept their rich inner world of experience both happy and negative and value them as a strength. This means that we, as parents, teachers, mentor or family member must do the work necessary to accept and value our own emotional and sensorial experiences and feelings in order to become a positive role model for our children. For most adults, expressing and valuing our emotions and our senses is very difficult to do.

Such an acceptance is key to the growth of these children and our species.
The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) by Kazimierz Dąbrowski describes a theory of development that views psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. Overexcitabilities play a central part in Dabrowski’s theory of advanced development.

Michael Piechowski, who worked with Dabrowski, explains the overexcitabilities as an abundance of physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and emotional energy that can result in creative endeavours as well as advanced emotional and ethical development in adulthood.  In other words,  overexcitabilities feed, enrich, empower and amplify talent.

Further more, individuals with strong developmental potential tend to experience frequent and intense crises (positive disintegrations) that create opportunities for the development of an autonomous, self-crafted personality. Dabrowski observed that gifted and creative populations tend to exhibit increased levels of developmental potential and thus may be predisposed to experience the process of positive disintegration.

These “disintegrative” processes are seen as positive. For Dabrowski individual developmental potentials include three aspects; special talents and abilities, overexcitability and a factor describing an inner motivation to develop. As W Tillier explains:

“ People who display an individualized developmental pathway break away from an automatic, socialized view of life (what Dabrowski called “negative adjustment”) and move into a series of disintegrations. If development continues, people go on to develop an individualized, conscious and critically evaluated hierarchical value structure (called “positive adjustment”). The hierarchy of values comes to act as a benchmark by which all things are seen and the higher values in the hierarchy direct behavior. These higher, individual values characterize a second integration reflecting individual autonomy. At this level, each person develops his or her own vision of how life ought to be. This higher level is associated with strong individual approaches to problem solving and creativity. Giftedness and creativity are applied in the service of these higher individual values and visions of how life could be. The individual expresses his or her talents energetically, through action, though art, through social change, etc.

The experience of, and reaction to, crises are a very important aspect of this approach and people are encouraged to experience personal crises with a positive and developmental view. Without internal disease there is little stimulus for change or growth. Rather than trying to rapidly ameliorate symptoms, this approach encourages individuals to fully experience their feelings and to try to maintain a positive and developmental orientation to what they may perceive as strong depression or anxiety.” (Tillier, 2009)

interestingly, shamanism has a similar view, a shaman often being a wounded healer.  The shaman must become sick to understand sickness. When the shaman overcomes her or his own sickness s/he will hold the cure to heal all that suffer.

Through this wounded healer concept both Jung and shamanism understand an opening towards other dimensions  of the self which can connect us to our humanity.  As Paul levy, a shaman, explains:

“As wounded healers, we become transformed when we recognize that our wound is completely personal and uniquely our own, while simultaneously being a universal, impersonal process in which everyone is participating. It is this shared felt sense that deeply connects us with each other. This is the paradox: An experience of our wholeness, what Jung calls the Self, is both personal and archetypal/transpersonal (beyond the personal) at the same time. To experience this contradiction consciously is itself the expansion of consciousness which initiates a transformation in ourselves, and by extension, the world around us. This is to paradoxically step into being a genuinely autonomous, independent being while at the same time realizing our interconnectedness, interdependence, unity and ultimate inseparability from the world and each other. The energetic expression of this realization is compassion.” http://www.realitysandwich.com/wounded_healer

What a wonderful potential…

In my next posts, I will explore how my family is attempting to become sensory  and emotionally aware and how we are detoxing our life diet.

Slowly, as we are living a simpler life and deschooling, I am beginning to see potentials for use of media that enhances instead of numb intense emotions, experiences and thoughts. But I need more time to understand the effect of media on my children.




  1. Pingback: Making Sense of a Toxic Life « The Highly Sensitive Family - June 21, 2012

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