An Anthropologist on Mars

Most of my textbooks go bye-bye at the end of the term, either because they’re of no practical use to me, or because I really do never ever want to lay eyes on them ever again. And then there are a few that stay on my shelf, either because I’ll need them in later terms, I’ve found that I use them on a regular basis in other areas of my life, or I just mean to get back them at some point or another. Sacks’ An Anthropologist on Mars is somewhere there, waiting for me and all the ‘free time’ I may or may not have this summer. But this post wasn’t meant to be a book review; actually, I just wanted to post my Sacks assignments from Psych 2 [in reverse order], all of which were prompted by this book. I’m no Psych major, of course, but, for what they’re worth… Oh, and I highly recommend the book, by the way.

time
synonyms: allotment, epoch, life, chance…

For this final assignment I chose To See and Not See. On one of our handouts on personality is the quote, “People are basically good and can achieve their true potentials if the roadblocks placed by society… are removed.” I think Rogers’ Self Theory captures Virgil’s personality very well. Modest he may have been, but he clearly strove to self-actualize, as indicated by his graduating from school, his decision to leave his home and train, work, and pursue a relationship. I do not think what the author called a “striking passivity” was necessarily a bad thing. I think Virgil was content with his existence and that he did not share Amy’s perception of his being “stuck.” I also do not believe that his passivity regarding his mother and fiancée’s conflict over a surgery for him was indicative of either weakness or lack of motivation, so much as it spoke of patience and acceptance that was merely in line with his general contentedness. He did not worry about being blind; neither did he worry about being able to see again. He was clearly not incapable of making choices for himself, as he had left home and found a job and Amy all on his own initiative. Virgil also sought and received positive regard at home, at school, and at work. When seeing was practically thrust upon him, it became an obstacle that interfered with his ability to self-actualize. On the extreme side nearer the end, Sacks speaks of Virgil’s outbursts of rage, outbursts that would probably have never occurred had he been allowed to remain blind.

I think the stress of learning caused conversion disorder in Virgil which became more apparent as time went on. Sacks says, “A… sort of visual shutdown – a withdrawal – seemed to be associated with situations of great emotional stress or conflict.” He goes on to speak of a difficulty in distinguishing between the physiological and the psychological. Examples of this include Virgil’s response to his family’s presence for his wedding, during which he “became blind”; after his illness, Amy described his behavior as that of a seeing person, yet he claimed he could not see; some time later, a reexamination of the retinas gave no evidence of a physical or organic reason for Virgil to be blind again, yet the retinas were not functioning. Conversion disorder that included temporary blindness at certain times resulted in a second permanent blindness for Virgil, and resulted in other negative side effects, such as his outbursts of rage, that he would probably have to bear and exhibit from time to time for the rest of his life.

The first thing I did upon completing Virgil’s story was take off my glasses, close my eyes, and pick up my guitar. The concept that struck me most while reading about Virgil was the idea of sequential perception and the blind “living in time.” I had to read that part several times and stop to think about what it meant, and I thought an experiment with my guitar might help me to comprehend it better.

I chose a song that requires me to form chords on the 9th, 7th, and 4th frets. I have played this song countless times, but when I played it with my eyes closed, I discovered that it does not seem as if I have formed any sort of muscle memory with regards to the placement of these chords. It proved no challenge to place my fingers on the correct strings, but when I slid my hand along the neck to form the chord on the 9th fret, I remember thinking that I had not slid my hand far enough, yet the tone was correct, and when I then slid my hand two frets back to form the subsequent chord, I slid my hand too far and wondered how I could have done so. When I corrected myself, I thought the first position and the second position seemed far too close. This experiment seemed to perfectly illustrate sequential perception. In further illustrating the concept of sequential perception, Sacks quotes, “Position is thus measured by time.” How many measured steps does it take from one end of the hallway to the other, and how long does it take? How are the steps measured? How far from one fret to the next and how long does it take me to slide steadily to the correct position? How far from the plate to my mouth to feed myself with a spoon?

This experiment put me in mind of two similar experiences from some years back. My violin teacher told me to close my eyes and, holding my bow horizontally in front of me, touch the other end to my pointer finger. I found this very difficult. She then instructed me to take up my violin and attempt to play a few measures with my eyes closed. I found that I had no concept of the length of my bow or the speed of my arm, and several times ran out of bow far too soon to complete the slur or hold the note for its required length of time. Similarly, my martial arts instructor had us practice our forms blindfolded. The idea is that at the end of your form, you should be standing exactly where you started. When I was blindfolded, I again had no concept of how far to turn to my right or to my left, how deep my stances were and consequently how long my steps were. When I completed my form and took of the blindfold, I was standing about three feet North and two steps East of where I started, and facing about forty-five degrees off.

The phrase “living in time” also brought to mind a concept that I was attempting to explain to my father just the other day; that being that predestination and free will are the same thing. Explaining this concept required me to use the analogy of man living in time and God living outside time. Would Virgil have understood this concept better than the average person due to his experiences? Would he have found this analogous to his own “blind life” that was entirely dependent on sequential perception in contrast to his “seeing life” which, in a sense, required him to step outside of time as he had previously known it?

Further along in the chapter, I was intrigued by Virgil’s statement, “Everything ran together,” in response to the supermarket. Depth perception being what allows us to distinguish one object from another, what is it like to see the world as flat? For it is this flatness that would give a crowded impression; Amy later mentioned that Virgil had expressed as “too close” when in fact they had not been, this being due to his lack of depth perception. Imagine if the reverse were necessary, and we had to train ourselves to see flat. Learning depth perception must have seemed as unthinkable and impossible at times to Virgil as the thought of having to learn to see flat is to us.

Reading about Virgil’s difficulties with depth perception made me realize why learning to see better photographs is complicated, and why even more complicated is learning to see black and white photographs as opposed to color ones. I’m currently in a class on black and white photography, and it has been a real challange to attempt to train myself to see the color subject that I wish to photograph in black and white in my mind’s eye. Furthermore, depth perception is much easier to capture in color, but much more profound when captured correctly in black and white; colors separate objects and imply depth perception, but shadows are what illustrate and emphasize depth in black and white photographs, and so a photo devoid of shadows has the tendency to look very flat. Once learned, the use of shadows to perceive depth is subconscious; learning black and white photography requires one to make it conscious again, which brings us back to Virgil who does not have any memories of depth perception that would aid him in learning it again.

It did not occur to me before that learning depth perception might be more difficult for an adult than a baby. The science behind the fact is fascinating, but also saddening, in that the stress and conflict learning to see can cause an adult is not unreasonable, but almost to be expected. And that the chances of overcoming such stress and conflict are slim and are more likely to prove impossible is worse. Virgil’s rage over being “thrust into a battle he could neither renounce nor win” is heartbreaking. I cannot help wondering if the whole adventure only affected his relationship with Amy negatively in the end.

Finally, I learned that it may be kinder to allow people who have been blind all their life to remain blind. Unless they wish it so strongly for themselves that they will do anything to make it happen, I do not believe such a decision should be made for them. It is a wonderful wish that all the blind should see, but with regards to the Biblical reference, this was not a miracle. A miracle is a happening that is entirely logical but that we cannot fully comprehend, for faith and intelligence go hand in hand, but Virgil’s sight being restored by means of a surgery is merely an understanding of science, and is not to be compared to Jesus’ act(s) of restoring sight to the blind.

“It” and “I”

It has never really occurred to me that one could be too focused/concentrated on something, to the point of the focus/concentration becoming a distraction or disturbance. Dr. Bennet has a wonderful ability to focus very precisely on something and not allow anything to break his concentration on this one thing, and while it is very useful when he is performing a surgery, it becomes a distraction when it comes to something like the news as he sees it relating to himself, or the weather. I think that all human beings have a potential, maybe even a tendency, to become too focused on something, but that “normal” people don’t recognize, and thus don’t analyze or suggest to others to analyze, this in themselves. I see where this occurs in my everyday life and where it becomes a problem, yet I ignore it or work around it as is necessary, as if there isn’t any question at all of it being an entirely “normal” experience.

Three ways that I can become a more focused individual:

1. I can clean my room. Or at least, my desk and the floor around it. One of my biggest distractions is clutter, but when I take the time to declutter, I’m constantly berating myself for not focusing on homework, which is usually the other thing that needs doing. It’s always the time for homework that drives me crazy; I know I need to make time for doing my laundry and cleaning my room and spending time with my family, but when I let homework pile up, it’s as if when I do any of those other things, I’m constantly berating myself mentally for “not getting anything done,” when in truth, I am doing something productive at all times, just not the one thing that’s bothering me the most.

2. I could, if I really thought it worth my time, analyze my position before I begin on a task. Right now, I’m typing on my laptop, but my two guitars are sitting on their stand right next to my desk. One guitar, the older six-string, is not very tempting because it’s out of tune, I’m not used to playing it much anymore, and I think my brother dropped a pick into it that I’m honestly too lazy to get out. But the twelve-string is out, too, and I find myself taking breaks from homework to play something at random times; sometimes once every couple of hours, sometimes every ten minutes within an hour. And then I’m berating myself again for not doing anything productive and cannot fully enjoy my guitar playing at all. Perhaps I need to know what things are distracting – like the guitar and the iPod that can record videos and even iTunes on my laptop – and find some way to temporarily remove these distractions until I can complete a given task. Like right now, I’m about to take five minutes to record a cover of a song I haven’t played in years.

3. The prompt states, “ways in which I may…” and I am going to propose, but then refute, the idea of a time homework schedule with assigned break times. I have tried it, back in middle school and junior high, but nowadays I go with a list of things I need to finish before a given date, forcing a weekend-before or day-before deadline depending on the specific assignment. The reason a timed homework schedule does not work for me is, first and foremost, because I am the oldest of five children and I still live at home. Thus, interruptions are inevitable, and while my family is cooperative when I put my foot down and say I cannot be interrupted, I rarely make these demands because I end up welcoming the interruption as a chance for a break. Plus, their interruptions are valid ones; such as my taking a fifteen-minute turn to watch the two-year-old; or mother needing someone to commiserate with her over the latest development regarding the reproductive health bill in the Philippines. When regarded from an emotional, mental, and spiritual health standpoint, as well as physical, these interruptions are good for me. I can’t remember who said it, but it was something about the necessity of interruption from the normal, how our bodies need the occasional abnormal to keep us sane.

Honestly, I’ve never thought about how I get into the flow of an activity and not become distracted. If it’s a writing assignment, like this one, then I need to either love the assignment so much that I can’t wait to work on it (and yes, this has happened, both in English Composition 1 and 2, and my course on Anglo-Saxon literature in high school, among others), or I need to effectively eliminate distractions by doing things like closing the door to my room, putting away all my folded laundry, recording and uploading that cover song that I’ve been dying to do, before I actually sit and write. I have done all three of those things and am now typing away like it’s the ultimate purpose of my life to complete this assignment. It’s also good to have an incentive, like watching Star Trek with Daddy tonight if I finish all the homework I’ve made a goal to finish.

I actually went and looked up ‘rage’ in the dictionary before attempting to come up with examples of rage in my life. Forgive me if it seems that I’ve tried to make a list of all the quirks I have that fit dictionary.reference.com’s take on the matter. Also that my mother is a psychologist and all these little quirks are duly noted. I promise. So. My dark side…

Just today, I was talking to my mom about this desire that I have every now and then to sink my teeth into something. She has explained to me that this is indeed a psychological disorder, but that as it does not impair my ability to function from day to day, it does not necessarily require any sort of formal treatment. Food doesn’t help; it’s not that I’m hungry. But… the best way that I can describe it is that I want to sink my teeth into something that has the consistency of flesh, specifically. So I bite my own hand. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. I bite myself so hard that I leave bite marks, and it never seems to be enough. I’ve tried biting pillows, rags, the blanket at night, my shirt sleeve, the wall of my own cheek, but they never seem to satisfy. The desire to bite has lessened over the years… sometimes I go for months at a time without thinking of it… but it used to be a lot more often.

Mother worries sometimes about my seemingly unhealthy fascination with violence. That is, I don’t go looking for a fight, but I am a martial artist – in fact, I live in a martial arts family of one 2nd degree black belt, three 1st degree black belts, and two yellow belts – and I grew up watching Romulans with green blood courtesy of Dad. I never thought it was anything abnormal or unhealthy until Mother wondered aloud if it was. I like movies like the Bourne series, Kill Bill, Passion of the Christ, Best of the Best, Fearless, even more than my brothers or father do; and yet I draw a very clear line between action/martial arts movies and horror movies – I have no liking for horror movies at all and I make a point of avoiding them. As best as I can explain it, I’m not about fear, just about the actual fight scenes, the plausibility of them, the technique, the motive. And yet I also very much enjoy Jane Austen-type movies, which seems to be the other extreme, social-commentary, girly side. I have a decent collection of weapons: throwing stars, escrimas, kamas, nunchucks, staffs, etc. I like traditional weapons; I have a general disdain for what I consider non-traditional, like guns. Mother seems to find my poetry slightly disturbing, so I stopped showing it to her in high school because everything I wrote seemed to have a bloody aspect to it. Whether through obvious things like throwing stars or less obvious things like roses, all my writing seemed to have something like bloodlust in it. Unicorns’ horns were prettier when tainted, red-eye removal was never necessary, sanguine is such a beautiful world, darker cherries taste better, raw meat is enjoyable to handle and slice into, blood and soapy suds when I’m washing a wound is enchanting. I also love expressive words, but they’re usually dark ones, like writhing, aching, shrieking, screeching, lurking, brooding, haunted.

Where does one draw the line between tolerance and masochism? How does one distinguish? Doctors, coaches, friends, they all tell me I have a high tolerance level for pain. In retrospect, if I’d not had this level of tolerance, I probably wouldn’t have come to school at all that day that I collapsed in class; the pain from that morning should have been enough to keep any decent person home. Doctors have had to order me to take pain medication, explaining to me that if I won’t take it because I feel I need it for myself, I need to take it because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Mother has had to order me to take pain killers because I can’t seem to be relied upon to determine my need for them for myself. Physical pain isn’t much to me most of the time; by contrast, emotional suffering rips me apart, sort of twists at my insides and eats at my consciousness until it becomes something physical, and once it reaches the surface where it can finally break through and be released as something physical, there it is finally repressed and quieted, precisely because of my tolerance for physical pain. It’s a vicious cycle, and I am aware of it – the torment, the surfacing, the repression – only so that I can continue to live in the world that brings on the torment again. I’m not trying to be poetic or dramatic; if I were saying this aloud, it would be in an entirely complacent commenting-on-the-weather tone. I’m not suicidal, I’m just tired of being alive sometimes.

Is it fair to say that self-control is in itself a psychological process? I don’t go around killing people – I don’t recall ever having any sort of desire to – but I write, as if writing were my outlet, my release. For English Composition 2, Dr. Leslie had us read Stephen King’s Why We Crave Horror Movies. It stuck with me and I think it perfectly articulates what my writing is to me, my way of keeping the gators fed. I don’t even write murder mysteries; things just sneak their way into my writing, like the whole thing about roses. I suppose normal people think of how pretty roses are and how nice they smell and how soft they feel. I think about all those things, but I also think about how the darkest red ones that look like blood are the prettiest, how sharp the thorns are, and how much it would hurt to walk on roses or be trapped in a room of them.

My practice of martial arts is a psychological process that allows any rage to “manifest itself,” but also allows “calm to prevail in the midst of adversity.” Martial arts takes great patience and lots of practice; it’s not merely learning to hit hard or move fast. Everything has to have meaning, from how far you place one foot from the other, to how much you spread your toes, to how much weight you put on your front foot as opposed to your back foot, to the angle of each of your joints, and so on. I have to learn to focus my power, and I guess you could say focus my rage, into my technique, not letting any of my angry energy spill out at random points, but focusing it into the tip of my elbow or the ball of my foot when I’m aiming at the board or cinder block to break it. The movement has to be precise, and in that sense, peaceful, calm; it cannot be random, disorderly. When I spar with others, I cannot allow anger to get the better of me; I need it to put power behind every strike and every block, but I also need to keep my head and keep cool so as not to fatally injure someone. There is also no general rule when it comes to sparring; you have to learn to control yourself based on the situation.

Sometimes, our instructor will have us do touch-sparring, which means that we only touch each other lightly to score points, and our instructor is looking more for our attention to the details of a specific technique than the power behind it; other times, our instructor says full-contact sparring, which is still controlled – even more so in some respects, because truly full contact would have the potential to kill someone – yet it teaches defense better than touch-sparring, because unless you are truly paying attention and stop thinking of a round as merely a game or an exercise, you are learning nothing about pain and what you need to do with your body to avoid it. I also need to judge according to the person; I fight ‘harder’ with boys my own age than with men decades older than me or children decades younger with me – and even then, the nine-year-old black belt is much more capable of hurting me than the nine-year-old white belt. I have to judge by age, rank, gender, and instruction, among other things.

Practicing with my various weapons also requires self-control, and is almost an entirely sort of control than just empty-hand combat. It requires an entirely different sort of focus, the channeling of rage into props that are only as strong or as dangerous as I choose to make them. Sometimes, as with throwing stars, for example, rage has to literally leave me to be effective, focused, channeled in the star that I’ve just thrown. Also, it’s very difficult in empty-hand combat to actually hurt oneself with the intended focused point – that is, I could hurt myself by twisting into the wrong position, but it is highly unlikely that I am in any danger of punching myself – whereas when practicing weapons combat, it is very easy to hurt oneself; to swing the nunchucks too hard and hit one’s own shoulder or head; to not chamber the escrima properly and swing aimlessly and without control such that it swings too far and hits one’s own ribs.

If Dr. Bennet were an uncle in my family, I suspect some of us would have more patience with him than others. Dad and my fourteen-year-old brother, Paco, would probably take it as it comes, and if they had any thoughts on the matter, would keep it to themselves. They would accept his oddities, so long as there was an explanation for them, and that would be that. Migi, my twelve-year-old brother, would probably have lots of questions. Migi is one for asking questions that really stump me. He’s very intelligent, digs deep, and doesn’t let go of anything easily; he holds grudges for years and years and can tell you about that one time three years ago that so-and-so didn’t hug him when they came home from so-and-so an event and he felt ignored. He’s very observant. He might treat Bennet scornfully, as is his tendency with regards to things that annoy him because he cannot fully comprehend them. Yena, nine, would also ask questions, but she is much more easily distracted. Once a question is answered, she lets it go. She is just as observant as Migi, but she would probably wrinkle her nose and then give a little shake of her head and shoulders and just go on as if nothing had happened, as she is wont to do when she thinks no one is looking. Nino, the two-year-old, would obviously not think much of anything and might just find Bennet altogether amusing and laugh constantly. Mother, being the psychologist and homeschooling mother, would encourage questions and conversation, make allowances and draw lines appropriately, and especially focus on the spiritual side of the matter and encourage all of us to do the same. My maternal grandmother would do the same. My maternal grandfather, on the other hand, would be very impatient, when in a good mood probably make jokes that he doesn’t mean any harm by but are actually somewhat tactless, and if anything upsets or bothers him, go out and work in his garden and attempt to ignore the situation altogether.

I come from a family with plenty of quirks and we all make allowances for each other, some more so than others according to our unique personalities. I daresay Bennet wouldn’t be entirely out of place.

an•thro•pol•o•gy
the study of the nature and essence of humankind

One of my favorite novels of all time is Regina Doman’s The Midnight Dancers. Near the end, the main character, Paul, says to Rachel whose life he has just saved, “Try to be a whole person. Not just a night person, or a day person. Be the kind of person who can live in both. Like a person is supposed to do.” The Midnight Dancers is, of course, fiction, but Regina Doman’s fairy tale novels are based on real people, and she goes to great lengths to ensure that everything in her books – from fight scenes to coding and hacking computers to the black market in organs – is as possible as possible can be. When I read about Temple Grandin, this line from The Midnight Dancers came back to me.

Temple lives no distinction between her personal self and her professional self. She is, in essence, what Paul is asking Rachel to be; to be someone who is whole and the same in every scenario that life throws her into; to have a constant reality. I agree with Jung’s idea of masks, but this is not who I want to be. In the sense that Temple’s being is constant, that who she is at home is who she is at work is who she is when sleeping, I consider her to be more human than myself. I wish to be a whole person to the point where masks aren’t necessary. I wish to wear my heart on my sleeve at all times and in all places; I wish who I am to transcend all social norms within given arenas. The Midnight Dancers is fiction, but Temple Grandin makes it real. Her life shows me that it is possible to be whole as I desire to be whole. Where I would be considered “normal” in this world and Temple “abnormal” because of her autism, I consider Temple “normal” because she has perfected the ability to live wholly, and myself as “abnormal” because I still find it necessary to wear masks from time to time, as if I believed a certain part of myself were not fit to be showcased in one arena and yet that same part is completely acceptable in another. It does not seem illogical to me to believe that Temple’s perception of reality is more accurate than my own.

I think Temple’s personality development is best described by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Her perception of reality is what has shaped her efforts to make something of her life, and I think this is summed up at the end of the chapter, where she is quoted as saying, “I don’t want my thoughts to die with me… I’m not interested in power, or piles of money. I want to leave something behind. I want to make a positive contribution – know that my life has meaning. Right now, I’m talking about things at the very core of my existence.” Temple has the basic physiological needs of food, water, air, and warmth. She has been set free from the autism that was a cage during childhood and adolescence by her own matured perspective of its being a part of who she is and her acceptance and efforts to use it to her advantage. Temple has clearly achieved the third level of needs, which are love and belonging, through her mother; her favorite aunt; her teachers; and various others such as the friend, Rosalie, that she phoned up; and her co-worker, Tom. Perhaps with Tom especially, and the teachers that encouraged her in her schooling and career choice, she has reached something of the fourth level of needs regarding self-esteem. And to me – at my limited experience and surface knowledge of psychology – that line about not being interested in “power or piles of money” suggests that she is indeed living mostly at the fifth level, that this is not merely a self-actualization tendency, but that Temple has a profound insight as to the real purpose of Life, that she has moved beyond the temporary and materialistic tendencies of this world, and has grasped at something much deeper. If I were to move from the psychology into the theology, something I am much better versed in, I would say that Temple has shown herself much closer to Truth than most humans get to in a lifetime.

Psychodynamic Approach

Temple states, “My life would be horrible if I did not have my challenging career.” Her work is her life because it maintains order. She describes her heightened sensations as a child, and how these sensations became chaotic when forced on her in ways that she did not have complete control over, such as when she was hugged. Thus, as an adult, she looks for ways to have experiences where she can experience the positive feelings, and at the same time, have that complete control over the situation that would nullify the negative feelings that might otherwise be attached to the experience; a perfect example would be the squeeze machine. The heightened sensations as an adolescent made her very aware of herself, and gave her a unique and mature perspective as an adult on the pros and cons of imipramine. I find it interesting that Temple does not like the idea of being manipulated – that idea of external manipulation is what she connects to chaos – yet has it ever occurred to her that her entire life’s work is, in a sense, the manipulation of animals? Is there a way to justify her manipulation of animals and still condemn manipulation as it relates to herself? Perhaps it is because she feels that those who manipulate her – such as in giving her a hug – do not comprehend her experience of the manipulation, and thus it is to be avoided; whereas her manipulation of animals is justifiable because she completely comprehends how animals react to her?

Cognitive Approach

Temple cannot break things down; she has to relive entire experiences, complete sentences, exhaust subjects. I think this is why she writes books and papers; they help her to process all the information she has attained on a given subject by giving her an outlet that requires her to be thorough and precise. Perhaps this outlet also helps her in her efforts to keep her life simple. Temple has learned to use her ability to retain information so completely and precisely to make up for her lack of pickup on social cues; she uses logic to ‘compute’ others’ intentions, to turn others’ impulses into algorithms and patterns that she can comprehend. Along this same line, she is able to be a moral creature by drawing direct lines between what we would “normally” consider impulsive and divine to the explicit factual things of the world.

Humanistic Approach

To Temple, science = order. Everything is work and no time is wasted. Temple viewed the visit from Sacks as work, made the necessary adjustments to her schedule, but never considered it to be social on any level, hence her forthrightness and lack of small talk or any introduction, hence also the demonstration of the squeeze machine. Temple is very aware of the limitations she has – that is, limiting according to social norms – due to autism, but she is also very aware of her strengths and puts them to good use. She accepts autism as part of herself and choose to use it to self-actualize instead of allowing it to get her down.

Temple is aware of her lack of understanding of social cues, but rather than allow that to become a hindrance, she makes a positive choice for herself to be celibate and not date. With regards to her squeeze machine, which may be seen as a need for physical interaction, Temple seeks scientific validation for her reliance on her squeeze machine – an indication of her belief that science is an important tool in combating chaos. She goes on to say that the machine helps her maintain a feeling for others, that the machine opens her up to emotions that she would otherwise not be able to experience. She knows intellectually that she can infer social signals, but realizes that she cannot perceive, them, and she tries to compensate with logic that requires immense intellectual efforts.

Temple is aware of her gift with animals and her strengths with visual imagery, among others. She uses her strength of visual imagery to run mental simulations of her work, and her gift with animals allows her to put herself in the animals’ shoes when running her mental simulations, thus enabling her to alter her designs accordingly to make her designs better for the animals. She maximizes her ability to file things away in her mind, and her mental library has allowed her to learn some social rules based on comparing past experiences. Finally, Temple has become a whole person, where there is no distinction between her personal and professional self. Temple has truly gone to great lengths to learn about herself and use what she has learned to self-actualize effectively.

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