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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Current new painting

This is a look at my current new painting. Its a detail of the upper left corner of the middle panel. I shall be sharing my thoughts on it (dark matter, dark

'Dark Light'- by Stephanie Tihanyi
(all copyrights held by the artist)
energy, nature of invisible light, in the following post soon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Spaces in Between- Aspergers, Art & Central Coherence

Detail-from 'A Mote in gods eye'-by Stephanie Tihanyi
(all copyright held by the artist)
The Spaces in Between, is a piece I wrote about how I use my art to help me express, a personal experience or a story, an idea, or a conversation. I have no comprehension of how it fits into the general ‘big picture’ of things in order that other people can relate to it. It’s important that other people can relate to it as it makes us feel human and connected. There is a struggle to find somewhere to begin, when you have no outline or basic framework, you don’t even know by what name the general topic is called and it’s hard to even verbalize it if you did. However you do know, you have a very, very real need, obsession or passion, if you like, to understand and communicate something real. It’s a mystery, this puzzle, yes; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. This is the role of art. Through painting I have found a way to gather these pieces together and build my ‘big picture, from the bottom up. While working, I can only see one piece at a time, they are not in order and some of them may be missing. The act of painting them, holds them fixed and recorded, so they stay present when an additional piece (of information), comes along and they do not fade. Let me explain.

Every artist has their own way of making their paintings. They start in a certain way and finish in a certain way. The most widely practiced and understood method is what is taught in art schools. The artist consciously chooses an idea, emotion or concept, with a rough image in their mind beforehand. They have a global idea of the subject and a sort of image of how it will look and its contents. This is what is called ‘big picture thinking’. The general rule is to first plan out a rough layout or a composition. Then add tonal and color values and as work progresses, only adding the details in the final stages, if needed. This is the most usual route in painting and also with any endeavor one wants to achieve in life. Nature has designed most people’s brains to work in this way. The ability to see the 'big picture', emotionally and socially is a cognitive style successfully used by the majority of the population, it’s known as ' central coherence’. It’s similar to someone looking at the planet earth, first seeing it’s a round ball, with oceans, clouds and land-masses, to leaves on trees, fishes in the ocean and then to tiny microbes. However there is a small minority, who because of their neurology, tend to think in a different way. They are detail-thinkers. They have what is known as ‘weak central coherence’. On one hand it benefits sustained focus for creativity and discovery but on the minus side it weakens social and emotional communication and understanding. People, like me, are fascinated with detail, even the details within the details have got details on them, its like a fractual heaven. I am a detail- thinker with this cognitive style, I believe this is reflected in the way I create my artwork. I had no formal art school training, but even if I had, it would have made no difference, as I am sure I would of gotten frustrated with the teaching style.

So when I start a new work, I have a strong feeling of wanting to express something but cannot get a general idea of what. Lots of bits of info flood in but I don’t know how they fit together nor can I hold them together. I cannot verbalize it either it’s just too much and too overwhelming. One doesn’t just open the door, a crack, of the submersible undersea at 10,000 meters and let a little bit of water in, the outside pressure is too great.
 What I do, is start by making random marks with brush, plastic bag, or sponge: anything that can make marks with paint. This is not unlike  Leonardo's technique , which encouraged the viewer to search for meaning in chaos,  Now I feel less anxious because, now there is stuff on there (the canvas). I may not know what it is, but it’s pegged down. Something in the random markings will look like something and catch my attention. I will work detailing it, a great deal. Then I will leave it when it  can give no more information. Again my eye will be caught by another patch to work on somewhere else, and then another.
Painting by Stephanie Tihanyi (all copyright held by the artist)
                    marks in sepia on gesso board - Stephanie Tihanyi
These are random parts have no association with each other and I wonder how the heck can I make a coherent painting for myself, let alone anyone else. But I have been here before and learnt to just press on. As multiple images around the canvas are worked on randomly, something curious and magical seems to happen in the spaces in between. There begins to appear connections that have never been reveled before. It’s now, I really begin to enjoy working on the painting. Something I had not been able to do before now seems to be happening, almost without any struggle from me. As connections across the painting blend, fusion takes place and new concepts and relationships are created. The result is unexpected but carries the excitement of discovery. Sometimes I imagine this process encourages the neuronal branches to make new pathways in my brain. It certainly feels very therapeutic. It makes me feel alive and connected. This victory over previous chaos and the excitement of discovery keeps me painting again and again.
Detail-from 'A Mote in gods eye'-by Stephanie Tihanyi
(all copyrights held by the artist)
 I have found my own way to see the big picture and it feels good. Isn’t this what we all want, to give meaning to our experiences and be able to place them in a broader context of understanding. Everyone wants to possess a perception of what is life and reality. My way may be longer and take more time, but it is unique, original and it does make sense. But I am not done yet. The finished work affords me an understanding that only the emotional part of me understands. I look at the work, it makes sense, it has meaning, but I cannot say why it feels right. In order to satisfy my need to be understood by others and feel connection with the other, I have to explain my work. Further understanding is achieved when I work at verbally exploring my creation. I need to write about it. Before, the emotional part of me has been satisfied by this expression, now the intellect needs to understand, (also it’s easier for me to communicate on an intellectual level). I guess it’s the two parts (emotional, intellectual), collaborating on a project, for the mutual benefit of the whole, that makes the experience of creating art so beautiful for me. I think whatever your neurology and cognitive style, you are better doing what you are good at, rather than something you are not.   

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cup of Abundance

pencil drawing -by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)
'Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.'  Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -Hungarian Biochemist (1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1893-1986)
Please allow me to share my drawing with you. I worked from a memory of a dream I had of an Angel sitting at a fountain well with a cup.
The cup seemed to contain a fluid essence from some sort of fountain that welled up from the ground into a shallow pool. There were lots of people being given out sips from the cup by the angel. I found myself at the back of the large crowed in the dark, as I had come to this place late. I hung about patiently waiting my turn and the crowd eventually diminished,  and then suddenly I was at the front. I found myself in the illuminated glow of the seated creature. I looked around the place was empty, I was the last person. The pool was now drained but the angel still held out the cup to me. The cup looked empty and I held out my hand hoping there would be at least be a bit left for me. The angel completely tipped the cup up
and one single drop fell onto my palm. I was saddened, I began to fret, I felt tears rising because I had missed out, what could I possibly get from this mere little drop. I watched in dismay as the drop fell between my fingers and began to disappear!  Oh no! I put my head forward and dipped my tongue into the remains and a golden light burst into my being, transforming everything, flooding my being with peace and comfort. I looked at the Angel and it did not look up or speak, there was no need for words, the message given was clear. The gift of transformation was equal whether one got a droplet or a whole cupful, it would have been no greater of smaller.  I was given a lesson in this dream. Its not the quantity or how much you get or are blessed with, what is important is that you grasp and understand the essence of life, demonstrated but the act of the angel (higher self) and that essence is love, which in turn gives the power of self: transformation, renewal, intuition, reflection, subconscious and purification.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Art Work- 'A Mote In Gods Eye'

Its not easy to paint a vast sub-atomic universe. I am currently doing a triptych and am 2 thirds through the first one. Just only now, feeling a little daunted about the amount of work its going to take me. I know some of the best illustrator/artists undertake projects that last months, so got to stay focused and disciplined , will give updates as work progresses.

I am no daughter of the soil, I am not from here, I am, but dust, stellar dust, but, "A mote in Gods eye" a small corner detail of current painting I am working on -  August 19th

Its about looking for a place to call home, a place to feel you truly belong but when you find there is none and you never feel you belong anywhere, you begin to realize, that you belong to the cosmos. I am working hard to finish it.


                             detail of painting- 'A Mote in Gods Eye'  
                             by StephanieTihanyi (copyright held by artist)

Working hard very day, painting every spare minuet, it seems the more I work on this painting the more mystery it reveals for me to paint- Aug 19th

         detail of painting- 'A Mote in Gods Eye' by Stephanie Tihanyi
                                                                (copyright held by artist)

Well I have been working hard, painting on and off during the week and Saturday and Sunday, sometimes at 2pm into the night, still working on my latest painting, 'A Mote in Gods Eye' . Here is a small detail on the upper corner, 'space and time curves around a gravitational well as a cradle of new yellow stars just avoid being caught up in it due to their velocities. - Sept 1

My Gallery is No More

Its been a month since I came back from my summer vacation. The first one I took in five years.  I took it just after I closed my gallery in May, this year 2013. I started the gallery at the beginning of 2012 with two (ceramic) artists friends. We were always complaining about the lack of galleries on the island and I thought, hey, lets stop complaining and do something for ourselves. We could run a co-operative. So we did.

 The sales for the newly opened gallery were good at the beginning. I understood it takes time and a lot of work to build up a reputation but believed if we all work equally together, we could do it. Unfortunately in the first 3 months one artist pulled out, due to being unable to understand this concept.

We found another artist (painter) to share but she was about to have a baby and could not attend in the gallery often. Then as soon as we hit low season and the sales dropped, the other artist quit as well. I felt angry and disappointed. I had made an error in judgment about going into business with others. I had to find a third artist to share the space but the artists that applied only wanted me to be the gallery owner, who sells their work, while they create in their studios. I had an option to quit then and there but pure stubbornness wouldn't let me. I continued to pay 2/3rds of the rent and running of the gallery. I felt little support from other artists. Feedback from visitors was great. Our open nights were a disappointment with only 5 people turning up, we found little local support. Sometimes it seems that people like to see you fail because you are doing something they would like to but don't have enough passion to do..
(copyright held by artist)

 It was a struggle getting rent through the low season. There are times no one walks in all day or you can go weeks without a sale. Cash was in short supply, dinner was often sandwiches and I shelved medical treatment for a knee injury to keep the gallery open. I often sat all day and also in the evenings, till 9.30pm. When there were no sales, I had to find freelance sign work to pay the rent. I hated owing rent, I never had debts and I hated even being a week behind in rent.

I kept going because I don't like giving up and I felt many people assumed I was going to fold as soon as the other artists quit on me. I did not want to give anyone that satisfaction. The other artists then put work by the gallery of an influential, well established and extremely competitive local (painter) artist.  Some artists kept asking me to sell their work but I had no intention of playing gallery owner for others. Well meaning friends advised me to introduce other products, like clothes, jewelry and cheap crafts into the gallery and so effectively turn it into a store. I was dismayed that people around me just did not get it. I am an artist first. Apart from the overseas visitors, its often seems I am the only one who sees herself as that, so its a good thing I never do give up. Eventually of course, my work, mood and creativity started to decline. I tried to remedy this by doing my painting in the gallery but was constantly getting up and attending to potential buyers and worrying about the end of every month rent to pay. It just exhausted me. I thought if I could just make it to the season, it will be worth it.

Well, 2013 came with a disappointment, not just for me but for everyone. Tourism numbers were really down, and those that did come where afraid to spend because of the economy.  Many locals complained in the street fairs and markets. By the end of the season in April, and with another low season looming, I decided to call it quits, I was depressed. I had to find a new way forward but it was becoming clear it was not here and it was not like this. The feedback I got over the two years from the visitors to the gallery on my work, was very encouraging and greatly added to my confidence in the quality and honesty of my work. It helped to hold me up good, when the air of cold competiveness and indifference I felt often around me got me down and doubting myself. I pick up emotional energy in  a room very quickly and it can leave me anxious. Its just this way when you are a highly sensitive person, you absorb all things from people, the good and the not so good vibes. (Something, I am learning to protect myself from). My co partner artist, did not want me to close but as she could not put more support into the gallery to help, financially or in hours, I could not sustain my enthusiasm for it any longer, I had to tell her, I was sorry, I was tired.

I had a bunch of mixed feelings at closing. On one hand, I was no longer sleeplessly worrying at 2 in the night over rent due, it was a great relief, but then I also hate to quit things. I like to think I am not a quitter, I am a fighter, I soldier on . But I still felt like a loser. Why? I still had this voice in my head telling me I was useless, cant make nothing work. So I left the island and traveled hiking and climbing, biking in England, Germany, Italy and Mallorca. As I had never climbed before and had a fear of heights in adulthood, (though not in childhood), it was very wonderfully therapeutic for me to regain a sense of achievement.

It wasn't until I thought more deeply about it my gallery, I realized I was not giving up, Times were hard but at least I had shown some balls. I learnt that sometimes, the thing you try to avoid the most, is the best thing that can happen to you. I gave into and accepted change. I learnt some lessons, grown a bit more and arrived at a time, where I have more freedom to work on, transform and develop my art beyond a level I have never attempted before. I am depressed no more, I am excited about my artwork once again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Asperger's Growing Up

                           Asperger's Growing Up

The Ruby Horse- oil painting by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)
In my impatience to be born, lol, I arrived two months too early and weighed only 1lb 8 ounces, covered all over in ‘lango’ a fine hair, ‘less than a bag of sugar and looking like a spider monkey’, remarked my mother, cupping her hands together.

Immediately following the birth, I was rushed to another hospital miles away, to an incubator, to assist breathing, because there was not one in my home town.This must of stressed my mother because she already had my 10 month old sister to look after and at that time my parents were very struggling finacially.

At 2, I was hospitalized briefly for an eye operation, but because I raised pure screaming hell on the kids ward they sent me home early. At 5, I absolutely refused to enter my first school, because it looked too much like a hospital. As far as I was concerned, hospital is where they abandon you.and I was not going in there. Eventually with my mothers coaxing I relented and actually enjoyed it.

Nothing else noteworthy stood out from my very early childhood behavior (pre-school) and I remember it as quite peaceful and pleasant, except I did spook my mother out with occasional odd qwirks.. She thought I saw ghosts and it gave her goosebumps because she said I would stare intently at the wall, cupboard, door or window and make smiling and waving gestures, as if someone was there, I, of course I don’t remember a thing. 
Something that was significant in indicating AS, was that I remember my mother noting, that instead of crying, whining, acting shamed or protesting like other siblings or cousins, when being angrily reprimanded by either parents, is that I would become fixed and immobile. I would stand and stare blankly or inquiringly at the reprimanding parent, as if to say, ‘what are you talking about?, are you talking to me?, what is it that is going on?. My mother said I seemed genuinely confused as to the interactions taking place. 
A hallmark of children with Aspergers is that they do not ‘read'  (’)  faces and can’t tell when someone is becoming annoyed or angry, although they are able to recognise extremes of emotion, such as very happy/angry/sad.
 Later on, this disability of mine, would lead me into big trouble. Because neurotypically brained people, assume all others react uniformly and they have a lack of imagination that there maybe differing cognitive styles. My odd reactions were deemed as defiant and willful to my authoritarian father. It was  like a red flag to his bullish aggression. This, I believe lead me to be beaten by him the most severely, if not the only one, in later years. I simply failed to see the visual red flags and learn to shut up like my siblings. I remember my step mother saying "I don't believe you cant see your father getting angry, you know what he is like, I think you ask for it!'. To me those punishments were like a bolt out of the blue, with no warning signs. Getting hit was bad enough, never knowing when shit was going to happen made life and people seem very unpredicable.
 My first difficulties of Asperger’s syndrome, arose in early primary school. I had no problems prior, because I had my older sister as my one dear friend, but when we were separated in middle primary school, I begun to experience problems and anxiety, forming social relationships.
 I was very confused and fell into an absorbed sadness that I could not express. I could not understand why the other kids in the playground would not play with me. I felt afraid, hurt and rejected. I remember teachers taking me in hand and going over to groups of kids and gently trying to intercede on my behalf and get the other kids to let me join in their play. They still ran away. I really did not understand it. I was quite aware of and felt the teachers frustration but I had no way to express myself. They would say, “ why don’t they want to play with you?” and I would feel ashamed, it was like they was asking me if there was anything I had done wrong. After a while they did not ask. To avoid the feeling of shame or be viewed as bad in some way, I began to hide on the stairwells during recess and pretend to do homework or read a book. I looked forward to meeting my dear sister at the gate, so we could walk home together.
. It was the first time I came aware of being different from others and I did not like it. Once when my sister was away from school, due to sickness, I walked home alone. So absorbed was I, I walked straight into a lamppost, cutting my eyebrow, blinding my eye with blood. I was very fortunate, it did not go unseen. An Indian man ,a kind Hindu, was watching and took me home to his wife who cleaned my face and put a bandage on my head.
After the man walked me all the way home to my mother. My reputation of being a dreamer was first established, I was from then on,  an imaginative child with her head in the clouds, in a world of her own. No one concidered that I maybe mildly autistic, in 1968 only boys not girls had aspergers. I was artistic, I held onto that, it gave me a positive identity.
I knew the other kids were not really bad. I also knew I was not doing anything bad that I could perceive, yet I could not understand this mystery. The lack of understanding was painful. My need for an asnwer lead me to create a theory. Somehow I came to reason, it was my social neediness for others, that put others off, (others, meaning other children, (adults, I had no problems with)). In an attempt to understand and control the situation, I figured, this is what made people withdraw. At last! I had an answer that gave me a sense of meaning and understanding. If I did not show to much social neediness, no matter how lonely I felt, I would not get rejected and no one would be at fault. If I showed I had a need or yearning for friends I risked being despised by them. Such childhood experiences such as these, are very emotionaly painful among those of us with aspergers and its not unusual for us tho carry these types of emotional defenses into our adulthood, as Lynne Soraya, writing on Asperger's Diary explains here, they can color our lifelong relationships with people.

My tendency to take statements made by others literally first became apparent to others around the age 10. My primary school english teacher prepared an imaginative writing project for the class. He placed a red ink splattered shirt by the open class room window with a compass, a crowbar and a box of candy. It was very dramatic to say the least. For our project we were to write a story about how these things might got there. Somehow I didn’t get it. I remember one child dramatically suggesting ‘a murder’ and the teacher said 'good idea’. Well, that was it. Done deal. I went home and told my mother there had been a murder at the school, I told her I was extra scared because I was worried the murderer may return. She rang the school all  alarmed and the next day the teacher took me aside and told me it was just make-believe. Back then of course autism was not ever looked at in girls. I was just an ‘imaginative’ child. That became the reason for anything that was different about me. But how could I be so imaginative in my drawing, yet lack the social imagination of what others was thinking? Theory of mind. Here is a great little You Tube vid explaning it.

 Nobody knew it was more than vivid imagination that also caused my difficulties in understanding common words and phrases others used like, ‘hardships’, ‘clothes lines’, ‘at the end of the day’. Such phrased were confusing to me and I got ribbed at quite a bit, even when it was explained again and again, I just couldn’t get it. Your hard-ships?,Are not all ships hard? Is that opposed to ‘Soft’-ships which would sink, right? that’s not logical, Duh? Mother was putting washing on a ‘clothes’-lion?. What does that mean?, ‘a clothes lion? a lion made of clothes?...or a lion wearing clothes...???’. I often got told ‘you’re so daft sometimes’ or ‘you’re just messing me around, acting like you don’t understand. The good news is a keen memory for words and puns can be developed over the years and into adulthood, and put to creative use in a visual way, comic strip conversations, and other concrete, or unusual visual art approaches. I belive that not being able to express myself verbally, coupled with high sensitivity, lead me to being an artist.    

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dark Energy of the Quintessence

Painting by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)

"Dark Fluid sits in pools, in the gravitation wells, of the rippled fabric, of expanding space /time"  (a detail of) 'Dark Energy'- by Stephanie Tihanyi(copyright held by artist)

From the beginning of 2013 I have begun to embark on a new journey in my life and my art. I had felt a universal pressure to finish and start a new more focused, deeper track to explore my own unique potential as early as 2012. That year felt for me to be a year where all things finally reach the end of an evolutionary cycle. A reckoning of things coming to pass, where conclusions or revelations are finally reveled or wrapped up, whether its positive of negative depends upon the activities cause and effect and how it is handled . These things could be external in our environment or they could be things taking place on a level deeply inside us. I think I accepted this changing and as a result experienced an an awakening and expansion of awareness of myself and the world around me. My thoughts have lead me to what force leads to this expansion. By what manner or means do we increase and expand in consciousness ( the expansion of new neural pathways in the brain). Does inspiration have a physical relation to quantum reality? . I guess one could look for a religious, spiritual or pseudo science explanation but I do not want to go that far, (its not far enough). Through my artistic imagery, I only wish to explore, with fascinated curiosity, the interesting mirrors and patterns that occur in subjective experience and the nature of the universe, without trying to play scientist or get religious.
Dark energy and what dark energy is, is a topic of interest and speculation among the world’s scientific theorists of today. It is at the cutting edge of our current ideas about the very nature of the universe in which we live and more. Current research seems to prove that all energy is expanding in the universe and this mysterious dark energy is thought to be the reason for this.
'Dark Energy' - by Stephanie Tihanyi

So what is this dark energy?

There’s two main ideas, one that it’s a constant uniform energy filling all space, or its is a fluctuating energy, that can vary its presence in space and time. I like the second one, called 'Quinessence'Of course many things about dark energy are still matters of speculation. Evidence of it still not straight forward but its three pillars are,
(a) the fact that the universe is accelerating in its expansion, (b) a theoretical need for an alternative energy that is not matter or dark matter to form the observed flat universe, (c) it explains large wave- patterns of mass density in the universe.
detail of 'Dark Energy' by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)

In quintessence, dark energy has a large wave length and has a light field but it is moving and dynamic, it dose not clump together to form dense stuff like matter, it, unlike the uniform constant theories of dark energy, can be an attracting or repulsing force depending on the rate of its movement and potential energy. It can shift and ripple in strength, action and behavior.

A new body of artwork

It is my desire to explore these themes in my work in a more intense and focused way. By the end of April, I will no longer run the gallery and will be able to devote my time and energy to this work. It is my aim to be able to complete enough work within a year to find a gallery to hold a solo exhibition outside of my locale.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perceiving Electrical Fields of Flowers in Art

The Electric Flamboyant by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)
Flamboyant Flux - 2009 by Stephanie Tihanyi (copyright held by artist)

New Research
Flowers have sophisticated ways of communicating, that until recently were unknown, according to new research by scientists at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences . According to new research lead by, Professor Daniel Robert , "pollinators such as bumble bees are able to find and distinguish electrical signal fields given out by flowers. From their research they reveal, flowers produce bright colors, strong patterns and fragrances to entice their pollinators. Now researchers have found flowers have their own electrical equivalent of a neon sign. They create distinct patterns of electrical signals. Plants are charged negatively, due to being grounded. Bees on the other hand require a positive charge, up to 200 volts as they fly through the air; the bumble bee generates this in the hairs of their body. When the bee approaches a flower their electrical signals interact and when the bee leaves, the flowers electrical field is change for some time after. Researchers believe the flower lets the bee know the honest status of it nectar and pollen supplies, and also , how long ago, it was visited by another bee. The flower and the bee share an electrical relationship. It is also shown that electricity boosts flowers other tools too, such as color. Researchers are speculating if it is possible, electrical fields happen when humans and other animals interact with flowers also. "When you bend over to sniff a flower, will it change the flowers electrical potential?" says Professor Daniel Robert. Indeed!
In my painting I explore my passionate love of flowers, not only as pretty colorful objects but on a deeper level, sensing them acutely and in great detail. These are two paintings I did in a series of large flower paintings beginning in 2009 and still ongoing. The subject is the Flamboyant Tree of the tropics, (Delonix regia ), also known as the Flame Tree.  It is one of the most strikingly colorful trees when in flower. The whole tree turns a vivid red that can be seen for miles.  I looked at just a singular flower cluster for study. Painting images are taken from my website: Stephanie Tihanyi   
My earlier flower work was much more simpler, though the more I am studying them, the more information I am able to sense. When I study these blooms, the color is what is most striking and then I am drawn to the incredible detail in the intricate patterns on the petals made by colours and by the vein structures. The whole thing seems to give off energy, that travels along the routes of the veins and is expended out at the ends, into the environment.
Electric Flamboyant -  2009 by Stephanie Tihanyi
When I am so highly focused and open to the flowers information it can feel like the neurons are firing up in my brain, mirroring the flowers energy. I know it sounds a bit nuts but that's how it literaly feels. I have a friend, Douglas Eby, who says this is a trait of the Highly Sensitive Personality : 
he is a psychologist, author and researcher who also writes a blog: The Creative Mind. He has a name for such an experiences; latent inhibition.
"One technical term for the personality trait of high sensitivity is “sensory processing sensitivity” – One study, for example, found that the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment." Psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD is probably the leading expert on high sensitivity, or more technically, sensitivity.sensory processing  She writes “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait.“It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings,a great advantage in many situations.
“It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” Douglas Eby, who has interviewed Aron says, '
An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitive People that they are quite normal, and that their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect'.
When I am painting or observing the flower, it seems a if I am both acutely sensitive to all stimulation and intently focused at the same time. I extend all my senses as far as they will go. The only other time I can do this is in the bush, in the countryside. I get too overwhelmed otherwise. Other people normally operate in the middle but I seem to be able to pull the two extremes of this spectrum and hold them together at the same time. It’s a state that you can defiantly sense in your nervous system and with prolonged use, when working for a long time on something, your brain can feel hot and you can feel dissociated. This effect can last hours after and is not good to everyday other activities. I find the best way to "get back out of my head again" is to energize the other part of yourself, your body. A good run or vigorous swim is the best way to re-set your biological nervous system.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding the Rainbow (part 1)

Sanctuary of Kali - S. Tihanyi
(copyright held by artist)
Sometimes in life we discover something that changes us and our view of ourselves. To discover that after so many years of inner confusion, doubt and incomprehension, that there is actually a quantified and measurable reason for why I have struggled with the social world in the way I have and that I am actually not alone.
Nearly a year ago I discovered from a psychiatrist I have what is known as Asperger’s syndrome. Some view it as a form of high functioning autism, however on the eve of my discovery, I find it has been, (with much controversy) removed from the DMS 5 and is now seen as a mild form of autism.(ASD). Learning I have this syndrome has been a huge help in dispelling my lifelong confusion, of why other people have an ability to do things I cannot, like have an ease and flow in communication between each other, that is often a mystery to me. How I either make people laugh or piss them off, without even ever understanding how, and other things. People that do get to know me, find me smart and at the same time socially clueless, while others totally misunderstand me or even dislike me.
The knowledge and research into the syndrome is most recent, so I cannot fault any childhood pediatrician ‘if I had ever seen any’ in my youth for not diagnosing me or my parents for not supporting me more, though in light of their general neglect, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference anyway.
Aspergers was in the past thought to be a male only disorder but this has been dispelled in recent years. Today treatments are focused mostly upon the young, and concentrate on improving communication. The majority of adults with Asperger’s, go undiagnosed, the majority of adult women with Asperger’s, even more unlikely to be diagnosed because they present differently to males and can mask their differences better. Tony Attwood: Girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome

People with AS have problems with social skills and communication, obsessive or narrow interests, sensory overload and motor skills. this often leads to problems with depression, frustration and anxiety. Many are highly sensitive. 

People with Aspergers have problems connecting to others because they communicate differently than most other people and their brains process things differently. They do not do social chit chat very well and there is reason for this. We have an inability to read non verbal body language, being unable to perceive or use it, we also do not display much body language ourselves in our communication. Our voices can be flat or monotone and our faces may seem emotionless, leading others to think we lack emotions or empathy. When we are upset, even if in great pain, we state simply ‘I am feeling really sad or hurt’ but have little visual expression, leading others to dismiss our distress as mild, or false and making us feel others don’t care. 

 Also, I may have a friend who is upset or angry, but says everything is good but somehow displays non-verbally, that she is not. To her, it should be clear. But to me, I am only reading the words coming out of her mouth as everything else is blank and I respond in a cheerful manner. She then thinks I am being cold, heartless or just a bitch. I am in turn am hurt, (little outward expression) because I don’t know what I did wrong. This is how I fail at making friends, especially among women. I have very few female friends.

I am also inapt at sarcasm. People with Aspergers are known to take things people say quite literally. Some of this again is body language but some is that we use mostly logic in communication and thinking. Even among females, we have what is known as a ‘the male brain’. We may have problems understanding that people often communicate by not saying what they mean. This just does not seem to make any sense to us. When making sarcasm, others display subtle cues indicating it’s a joke., but of course we miss it, making us look totally stupid or gullible. One can often find oneself being taken advantage of by manipulative or dishonest people if rushed into decisions.

Interacting in a social group can be full of anxiety, a terrible minefield of potential miscommunication and misunderstandings, one never knows what the outcome of a social interaction will be, so I tend to hold back, making some people think I am snotty or aloof. Will I offend someone?, will I be laughed at, will I be rejected, will I get used?. Due to sensory overload, it takes me a while to process information and I may reply eager to participate and be a part of the social conversation, only to have everyone groan that , ‘we done talking about that ages ago’. Sometimes I have real problems with verbal communication. It’s so hard; I cannot form the words and sentences fluidly, so I have to rely on acting out well rehearsed lines and phrases like an actor, sometimes I can do this very well but sometimes I annoy people, who have heard them too many times and succeed in making myself appear boring or dull. It can be so frustrating communicating, often its easier to just withdraw altogether. But it’s not possible or an option I can accept. If I want to reach any of my goals in the world, I just have to keep trying, no matter the anxiety and the mistakes.
Aspergers people can have problems with co ordination. I used to have this but have found great progress can be made by learning co ordination manually, so to say. What does not come naturally can be learnt. This is true in all things. I used to feel very uncomfortable in my body. My gait was not so graceful and when I was young I got the nick name of ‘horse’ because of my plodding gait. I got plenty of scars from falls I made. As an adult practicing aikido, helped me to connect with the motor-co ordinations. Somehow in the course of the repetitive training, it seemed I downloaded a new script of how to move, that seemed to facilitate the growth of new neural networking pathways in my brain. It was wonderful, now I can spin and twirl, dance and have confidence in all my movements, on and off the mat. It was such a boost to my self esteem. Movement therapy is very much promoted in the therapy of autistic children. Many such children improve their motor co ordination skills in practising a martial art like aikido. Also, engaging in a mutual, friendly, honest social activity with others, that does not rely on social chit chat and that's primarily non verbal, is of great benefit to ones emotional well being.