Part 1: Inputs: The Hidden Dimensions of Sensory Perception
According to Dr. Aron, a characteristic of highly sensitive children is their sensory processing sensitivity. Sensory processing sensitivity is proposed to be an innate trait associated with greater sensitivity to environmental and social stimuli (Aron et al. 2012)[i].
Researchers Nilda Cosco and Robin Moore explain that well being is a balance between health human processes (psychological, physical, spiritual) and healthy environments (landscapes, weather, built environments, and the social circumstances of daily life) (Cosco and Moore, 2009)[ii]. They consider that physical environments and behaviour (physiological response to stimuli) are indissolubly linked. Behaviours have a structure; they are located in space and time. Their spatial and temporal boundaries are identifiable and their functions are independent of other adjacent ‘eco-behaviours”. In other words, behaviours can emerge from our interactions with the environment. This explains why highly sensitive children’s behaviours seem unlike other children in certain situations. The sensory input they receive from social life and the environment has a deeper impact on how these children formulate their sense of self and their identity.
Beginning to discuss highly sensitive children health means understanding what a heightened sensory or other kinds of heightened experiences are and how they influence the way a child perceives the world to build his/her identity. In the case of highly sensitive children, the environment and social stimuli play a crucial, yet invisible, role in their identity formation and affects their behaviours to a much greater degree than other children. Given that spatial embodied knowledge is vital to the identity formation and sensorial experiences of highly sensitive people, we will begin by examining the hidden nature of space at a molecular level.
As we saw in chapter 5, everything that exists is made of energy, including us. In the article “what exactly is Higgs-Boson”, Jonathan Atteberry explains that the standard model of Modern particle physics has articulated that the universe doesn’t only contain matter; it also contains forces that act upon that matter. Along with particles, the standard model also acknowledges four forces: gravity, electromagnetic, strong and weak. As it turns out, scientists think each one of those four fundamental forces has a corresponding carrier particle, or boson, that acts upon matter.
“ Some physicists have described bosons as weights anchored by mysterious rubber bands to the matter particles that generate them. Using this analogy, we can think of the particles constantly snapping back out of existence in an instant and yet equally capable of getting entangled with other rubber bands attached to other bosons (and imparting force in the process).
Scientists think each of the four fundamental ones has its own specific bosons. Electromagnetic fields, for instance, depend on the photon to transit electromagnetic force to matter. Physicists think the Higgs boson might have a similar function — but transferring mass itself.”[iii]
Assuming the Higgs boson exists, everything that has mass gets it by interacting with the all-powerful Higgs field, which occupies the entire universe. If these forces are what bind the world together, the nature of matter itself has been redefined. Physicists now understand that particles have no inherent mass, but instead gain mass by passing through a field.
If the Higgs field generates energetic forces that are invisible to us, it is still the essential nature of space. One can assume this Higgs field functions similarly to other energy fields we know of, such as electricity.
As Bernie Hobbs explains[iv], an electric charge always has an electric field around it, spreading out forever. If an electric charge moves, the electric field will move with it. No matter what speed the charge is moving at, its electric field will follow it at the speed of light, but it takes a tiny fraction of time for the whole field to catch up. If you make the charge move up and down (or side to side, or back to front) in a nice steady rhythm, the electric field around it forms waves – like the ripples on a pond – moving out in every direction at the speed of light. Whenever an electric field moves, it automatically creates a magnetic field that mimics its moves but at a 90 degree angle. The electromagnetic field travels as a wave just in the same way as light does.
Magnetic fields can control other forms of energy. Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered how to control heat with a magnetic field. The study is the first ever to demonstrate that acoustic phonons — the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound — have magnetic properties:
“This adds a new dimension to our understanding of acoustic waves,” said Joseph Heremans, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology and professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State. “We’ve shown that we can steer heat magnetically. With a strong enough magnetic field, we should be able to steer sound waves, too.” (…) “We believe that these general properties are present in any solid,” said Hyungyu Jin, Ohio State postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study”.[v]
If all energy has magnetic properties, it must be present in humans in some way. Our body generates electricity, and this ability is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electricity allows our nervous system to send signals to our brain. These signals are electrical charges that are delivered from cell to cell, allowing for nearly instantaneous communication. The messages conducted via electrical signals in our body are responsible for controlling the rhythm of our heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body, and much more.
We are electrical beings and as such, we also create magnetic fields. We know that an electromagnetic field affects the behaviour of anything with charge in the vicinity of the field. The image below illustrates the invisible signature of a magnetic field. It is quite plausible that the Higgs field produces a similar invisible effect.
|Figure 2 Invisible electromagnetic signature|
These findings suggest that we are made of energy and forces, not matter, and that we are forces that exist in a field of energies and interact with other fields of energy. Highly sensitive children are more sensitive to the signals of these fields and perceive their subtleties in great detail. These energies are the fundamentals of sensory communication.
Given their heightened ability to process subtleties, we should consider the quality of external influences as central to the “self” formation of highly sensitive children. While the processing of sensory input is internal, the inputs themselves are external elements. Energy emanates from all sentient being, as such it is important to understand the quality of energy people and the world bring to these children.
Since space is central to sensory life and that energy is core to space, the most fundamental element of sensory life is energy. We need to consider that a highly sensitive child’s “being” is intertwined among many dimensions in interactions with energy which have a subtle effect on the child; and that their well being depends in part on balancing the inter-relationship of energy to a number of other health determinants.
Here lies a first difficulty; energy is the most difficult element to consider as it is invisible and depending on our belief systems (the social and cultural perspectives), it has more or less defined boundaries. This explains why understanding the nature of a highly sensitive child’s sensory experience is often difficult, what is sensed may not be obvious. But if we can help them to understand these boundaries by rendering them explicit, highly sensitive children may be able to recognize where the edges of their being begin and stop. With awareness of their existence in space, they may stop confusing themselves with the environment, a rather difficult situation, also detrimental to identity formation and sure to create tremendous anxieties. We will come back in greater details the nature of this spatial dimension of health and its implications on a child’s behaviours later on. First, it is important to understand the unique way in which a child’s spatial experience of the world influences his/her perception of life and influence a highly sensitive child’s health.
[i] Aron, E. N., A. Aron, and J. Jagiellowicz. 2012. Sensory processing sensitivity: a review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 16:262–282.
[ii] Cosco, Nilda and Moore, Robin (2009). Sensory Integration and Contact with Nature: Designing Outdoor Inclusive Environments. The NAMTA Journal, Vol 34, no 2, Spring 2009.
[iv] Hobbs, Bernie. “ In this universe, charge is everything”. Science Basics With Bernie Hobbs. ABC Science. Published 27 May 2013. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/05/27/3764768.htm
[v] Ohio State University. “Magnets can control heat and sound: Experiment reveals new mysterious properties of sound waves.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150323130847.htm>.