“Achtung, Baby!” proclaimed U2 back in 1991 – ATTENTION!
Well, the German word – ‘Achtung’ – has many contextual meanings, including ‘Respect’ and ‘Esteem.’ So perhaps they didn’t mean it as “ATTENTION,” but since I do, let’s stick with the first part — ATTENTION!
We’re walking through a crowded shopping mall and we spot a yellow sign warning us:
“CAUTION: WET FLOOR!” or the Spanish “CUIDADO: PISO MOJADO!”
The crowd shifts to accommodate the sign like a log caught in a stream — and we understand, ‘Oh! The floor’s wet. Better walk around it,’ because:
A. I don’t want to fall – ouch.
B. I don’t want to disturb the janitor’s work.
C. I want to present that I am a good person who can follow instructions.
D. I really AM a good person who follows instructions.
D. I don’t want to go near in case it is some other danger.
We all have these moments of deliberation, but we usually integrate our response to the situation without having to “think” about it.
If we’re walking alone, we may have time to realize the sign is in Spanish and not in English, although we know the implied meaning. We might even learn a new phrase by assimilating the information — “Piso mojado = Wet floor…” Hmm.
If we’re having a hilarious cell phone conversation with a friend, we may not notice the sign at all and then deal with the janitor’s evil eye as he continues mopping up the area we stepped in.
By now you’re thinking, “Where is this going? This doesn’t even relate to the paranormal!”
Well as usual, there is a method to the madness here at Paranormalyte.
This situation is an example of how to understand a complex psychological concept known as: LATENT INHIBITION
“Latent inhibition is a phenomenon by which exposure to an irrelevant stimulus impedes the acquisition or expression of conditioned associations with that stimulus. Latent inhibition, an integral part of the learning process, is observed in many species.” (see citation below)
Latent inhibition is a way to frame our perceptions of the world around us, and the majority of us stays within an appropriate range. We are attentive to a detail when necessary, inattentive when unnecessary or “irrelevant” to our approach.
Here our “stimulus” is that pesky yellow sign, standing there as a beacon of caution.
Most people function in what is considered a “normal” range of latent inhibition and can both recognize the stimulus and act accordingly without disruption.
However, people with Low Latent Inhibition (considered a mental disorder) treat nearly every stimulus with the same attention as we would a normal range outlier like a standing caution sign.
We take for granted our ability to process – “Oh, a sign” then “Oh, it’s a caution sign,” then “Oh, better steer clear.” Most of the time we do it so quickly that we don’t even think of it as an outlier. People with LLI (low latent inhibition) can not assimilate information so easily because their brains get caught up in every detail of the stimulus.
If we’re walking in a shopping mall and a giant silver UFO materializes outside H&M, we recognize that this is far beyond a normal outlier and our attention peaks. We can recognize that an alien spacecraft is not within our ordinary day-to-day experience, so we will naturally place our focus on it. This process goes right back to our instinctive “fight-or-flight” response — “Oh, that thing shouldn’t be here” then “Oh, that thing looks dangerous” then “Oh, time to run!” This is not low latent inhibition, this is beneficial.
For people with Low Latent Inhibition, something as simple as putting on a shirt may take an exorbitant amount of time because there is a disconnect between the objects and their perceived meanings and implications. The mental process might go:
“Oh, my shirt.”
“Oh, so many buttons.”
“Hmm, how many buttons?”
“How many colors are in it?”
“Oh, look at that string hanging off it – I hope it isn’t ruined!”
“Oh, where was the shirt manufactured?”
And so on, and so on, all the while without putting on the shirt and being active.
Without intention, people can feel their brains creaking like an overcrowded elevator. They are not able to separate what is meaningful and productive from what is unimportant and unproductive. In a manner of speaking, it’s hyperawareness gone haywire!
In the world of psi, this concept is incredibly important in understanding how best to approach perceptions of energy.
One Paranormalyte member asked:
“How do you stay in the present moment when you are easily distracted by everything a lot of people don’t see? I find myself being a hermit — being around most other people makes me feel kinda like a freak.”
Another member explained:
“I also have A.D.D. and am a medium. Most days I just deal with it but lately it’s interfering with my concentration badly. I’m always astral projecting without realizing it. I seldom leave the house […]. Not because I feel like a freak but because I can’t relate very well to the average person out there.”
As paranormalytes, we are particularly sensitive to energies that are either imperceptible or easily ignored by others. The consequences of allowing energy to “mean too much” can be just as impeding to our experience of the world as the mainstream experience of allowing arbitrary things to mean too much. Truth be told, we live in a world of productivity — if we give more energy to thinking than to doing, we become immobilized.
If we expend too much energy receiving, we do not allow ourselves enough energy for perceiving. Understanding this allows us to make better choices about where to place our focus.
The question becomes: How do we approach daily life without falling into the trap of “latent psi inhibition?”
When it comes to being present, it is always helpful to understand situations in terms of your own latent inhibition — what you need to process. Paranormalytes (e.g. energy readers, intuitives, etc.) are particularly susceptible to LLI symptoms because we are able to assign meaning to things that to most people would seem erroneous or insignificant. However, in this case, LLI does not have to be a problem; on the contrary, most of us see it as a blessing.
The problem arises when acknowledging subtle energy begins to outweigh more substantial matters that affect us in life. It becomes more about a judgment call than a processing disorder — hence, it is what I would call LLI Behavior, not LLI in its clinical definition. The antidote to this experience of low latent inhibition is to set an active intention and make the decision to complete it.
ADHD and low latent inhibition are not the same issue, but they are interconnected insofar as focus is concerned. Sufferers of ADHD struggle with maintaining focus on intended tasks of varying degrees, and this can often be as a result of allowing too much extraneous information to take precedence over completing the tasks — low latent inhibition.
Just because you recognize the presence of an energy does not mean you must allow it to control your focus. By setting a task for yourself with a built in intention, you are engaging in every psychic’s favorite activity for self-management (and insanity-reduction): GROUNDING.
Grounding means just that — taking your focus from abstract to specific, from ethereal to earthy. Ways of doing this include literally touching the ground, picking a spot to focus on for a moment or two, engaging in a physical ritual like dancing or cleaning, or — for the purposes of this article — selecting a concrete focus.
So, you’re in a group of people at a restaurant and your friend orders a Diet Pepsi from the waiter as he approaches. You think that sounds great and plan to order one as well. Your intention in this social situation: ORDER A DIET PEPSI.
Suddenly, as your new friend next to you orders herself mozzarella sticks, your mind’s eye directs you to a corner of the restaurant where you sense a tragic death took place. You begin to get images, words, sounds. Okay, breathe in, breathe out. Give yourself the recognition of that first information then stop. Imagine an open door in your mind’s eye, then close it shut. Decide not to let that energy control your thoughts. Instead, try to integrate the information into your experience with others.
Order yourself the Diet Pepsi and listen to the conversation going on around you. When there is a break in conversation and you have a moment to interject, ask if anyone else around experienced any thoughts. You will not seem like a ‘freak’ if you are using the information as a way to bridge your experience with others. The goal is to place your overarching focus where it belongs — on your intentions. And unless you are being hired or enlisted to help with a particular situation, it remains your decision of whether to indulge your visions or not. Make sure to set concrete tasks to ground yourself as you navigate through the overstimulating world.
Latent Inhibition: Cognition, Neuroscience and Applications to Schizophrenia (2010). Eds. Robert Lubow & Ina Weiner.