Have you seen the unseen other?


Unseen other.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Have you seen the unseen other?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Counselor.

Have you ever felt the presence of someone you couldn’t see?

I’ve recently came across an interesting podcast from the British psychological society about just this topic. Dr. Jon Sutton, editor of The Psychologist magazine, talks to Dr. Ben Alderson-Day, an Associate Professor at Durham University who has written a book about this kind of experience.

Experiencing the feeling that there was someone close by that you could not see is a relatively common phenomenon. This kind of experience has been described a lot by people who are in conditions of sensory deprivation. Skiing through a blinding snowstorm requires using senses other than vision to navigate. People who dive in darkened caves may experience things beyond the range of human sight.

We’re pretty confident that just because I don’t see a person hiding in the darkness in the alley doesn’t mean they’re not there. But how do we explain the times when I sense someone there who later jumps out at me?

Lack of perception doesn’t equal lack of existence.

When the idea of germs was first presented, people laughed at the possibility of tiny creatures we couldn’t see. Now that we have microscopes, a whole new universe of possibilities is visible. We also know that X-rays can pass through the body totally unnoticed. Just because I can’t see them doesn’t mean X-rays don’t exist.

In the early days of psychology and psychological research, a lot of attention was paid to the boundary between what we can perceive via the senses and what we might experience in the subconscious or unconscious realm.

Not everyone who looks at a painting or landscape sees the same details. Perceiving something others don’t experience doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mental disorder. Is it possible that some people perceive phenomena not readily available to our senses?

Altered perception, including hallucinations, doesn’t equal psychosis.

In the early part of my career, I worked in a locked psychiatric facility. In learning to diagnose, we had to pay a lot of attention to the differences between relatively normal perception and something that might indicate psychosis. Not everyone who sees something hears something, smell something, and so on has a diagnosable mental illness.

For most of these iffy experiences, we can come up with plausible explanations.

It’s common for people to believe that they hear someone calling their name, but when they look, no one is there. We dismissed this with the explanation that when the brain hears sounds, it can’t identify it makes them into a familiar word, and nothing is more familiar than your own name.

Should all religious experiences be dismissed as examples of psychosis?

There’s an exception in the diagnostic manual for hearing and seeing things in the context of a religious experience that we generally ignore. If you’re a Catholic and believe you have seen the Virgin Mary or some other Saint, That shouldn’t count towards a diagnosis of psychosis. But if Mary tells you to go to Walmart, fill up your shopping cart, and it’s all free, we believe that is moved from a religious experience into a delusion.

Should you ever trust your gut?

There’s a lot of good evidence that you should trust your gut. When you meet a new person, if you get an uneasy feeling, you probably should walk away. Plenty of advice tells you that you should trust your “felt sense” or intuition. There’s a lot of literature devoted to the idea that you can develop your intuition. Highly creative people, both in the arts and the sciences, often credit their advances to intuition. Since we can’t readily see intuition, it’s easy to be skeptical. But if you’ve ever had an experience where you’ve trusted your intuition, and you turned out to be right, you have to wonder if that was more than just a chance coincidence.

It’s important to get to know yourself, and one model of personality that’s often used is the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. Intuition is one of the personality characteristics that’s been widely studied. I don’t think anybody would believe that people who are high in intuition are inherently mentally ill.

Is there a difference between intuition and psychic abilities?

As much as modern psychology has endorsed the idea of intuition, its role in creating personality, and its value in making decisions, it’s equally likely that modern science will laugh at the existence of psychic abilities. Of course, not everybody defines intuition or psychic abilities in the same way. People who were high in intuition as very young children and have gone on to develop that as a part of their personality are very likely to think of themselves as having some sort of psychic abilities.

Why my sudden interest in intuition and psychic abilities?

Currently, I’m working on writing a series of books featuring Nancy Nusbaum, a character from one of my published novels. Nancy majored in journalism in college, but the only field placement she could find was writing articles for the Paranormal News. As part of her job, Nancy must investigate unusual, potentially paranormal events. Her series of adventures, vaguely reminiscent of the X-Files, will allow me to explore this area of what is normal, what is paranormal, and the distinction between intuition and psychic abilities.

Stay tuned for some blog posts about personality factors and getting to know yourself. If you’d like to read more about my fiction writing career and hear about the release of Nancy Nusbaum novels, check out my writing blog davidjoelmillerwriter.com

Does David Joel Miller see clients for counseling and coaching?

Yes, I do. I can see private pay clients if they live in California, where I am licensed. If you’re interested in information about that, please email me or use the contact me form.

Staying in touch with David Joel Miller.

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For more information about my writing journey, my books, and other creative activities, please subscribe to my blog at davidjoelmillerwriter.com

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available on Amazon now! And more are on the way.

For more about my books, please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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Do you trust your intuition?

Intuition. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Intuition makes up half the decision-making system in your brain.

People who study brain functioning have investigated two different ways in which people make decisions. This is sometimes called the dual-process theory. One system, the deliberate decision-making system, is slow and requires a lot of information to arrive at a decision. The other system, intuition, reaches a conclusion rapidly, often based on very little conscious information. Relying on only one of these two systems can get you into trouble. The challenge is to decide when to use the slow, deliberative decision-making model and when to use the fast, intuitive model.

When might ignoring intuition get you into serious trouble?

You’re in the big city, walking across the street. You glance up and suddenly realize a bus is speeding towards you and you are about to get hit. Which decision-making model do you think you ought to use?

If you’re a very logical person, you might want to think this over a bit. How many feet away as the bus? How fast is the bus traveling? You look ahead and see how many feet it is to the other side of the street to get out of the way of the bus. You might also want to look back to estimate if you turn around and jump back onto the sidewalk; how far must you go? While you’re gathering all this information, the bus driver is slamming on the brakes, and you are betting your life on whether he will stop before impact.

What if you decided to use your intuition?

People who use an intuitive decision-making model would leap one way or the other without thinking. If you pick the right direction, this improves your chances of survival. Of course, you could choose the wrong direction and run directly into the path of the bus. Or you might decide to turn around and run back for the sidewalk you just left. One of these decisions, maybe both, might save your life.

Are there other situations in which you might want to use your intuition?

Social situations are a time when you want to rely on your intuition. You meet someone, and they say hello. If you stand there too long thinking over what the proper greeting would be, you’re going to appear socially inept. In the pre-Covid days, if someone put out their hand, you wanted to put your hand out and shake. Now your automatic response might be to bump elbows or perform some other gesture. What you don’t want to do is stand there staring blankly.

Making good decisions in life involves using both decision-making systems.

Relying too much on one decision-making system and not enough on the other are characteristics of two specific mental illnesses. Research on decision-making tells us that people on the autism spectrum rely heavily on thinking things over. They are high on rational decision-making, but that leaves them unable to make automatic decisions based on their intuitive systems.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who make almost all decisions emotionally or using the intuitive method. Relying solely on the intuitive decision-making system is one of the characteristics of schizotypal personality disorder.

You can improve both decision-making systems.

Some people believe that they are using logic to make their decisions, but their decision-making is so full of logical errors and flaws that it’s not very useful. Studying logic and how to make better decisions can improve the slow, deliberative decision-making system.

Many people don’t realize that the fast, intuitive decision-making system can also be improved. In some upcoming posts, I want to talk to you about improving your intuitive decision-making and deciding when to trust those fast decisions and when to use the slower logical decision-making system.

Other posts on related topics can be found under the following categories.

Overthinking               Rumination                 Worry              Finding Yourself

Personality                  Inner Child                  Intuition             Personality Disorders             

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel