From a thread started at reddit, here.
What we think of as reality is an agreement to perceive only certain aspects of reality. The agreement ensures that anything outside of that agreement will no longer be perceived.
It is possible to perceive things outside of that agreement. Children do it; animals do it; and many autistics and so-called “psychics” and “shamans” and “schizophrenics” do it also. (Psychedelic drugs allow ordinary people to do it too, though I don’t recommend them.)
Extra-consensual perception is not extra-sensory perception (ESP), however. It’s sort of the reverse. (There is nothing that we can perceive outside our senses, IMO; it’s just that our senses are capable of perceiving much more than we generally think.) Extra-consensual perception is full sensory perception. It comes through the five senses once they are fully open.
Autism is part of a species response to the unnatural limitations of consensus reality, and to the forced shutting down of EPC by socialization and enculturation. (Think ABA on a mass scale over millennia.)
I think of the human species as a single organism. It’s a bit like a balloon, if you push on one end, it deflates, and the other end has to bulge outward to take the displaced air. The air in this metaphor is perceptual capacity.
The more people shut down their perceptions, the more that disowned perceptual ability has to be picked up by another portion of the species. (This is only a theory, and I am oversimplifying to make it easy to follow. Obviously it is WAY more complex than pushing on a balloon.)
The currency of culture is what is “known” to be true. Knowledge is inessential to extra-consensual perception. The body knows stuff without knowledge, and knowing in the body something doesn’t automatically turn it into “knowledge” – which is like a set of knowings that have been stored by the mind (or in books, etc).
There’s like an internal battle within the human organism (and reflected in society out there) between two perceptual modes – focused awareness (a narrow band that takes in only what the eyes and mind zero in on), and unfocused awareness, which takes in what the whole body perceives through the five senses (but I think especially the ears), as well as inner senses like intuition.
Thinking/interpreting goes with focused awareness. Perceiving with unfocused. It’s not possible to think and perceive at the same time – if we interpret while we are observing, we will miss stuff. Observe first, interpret later.
NT types are interpreters; autistic types are perceivers, though of course it’s a spectrum so very few people are 100% either way.
As a high-functioning autie (as this post probably shows), I have pretty much aligned myself with the thinker-interpreter types, but I am slowly learning to perceive with my body more, and interpret with my mind less.
I suppose you could loosely equate this division with right brain and left brain. So what’s really needed is a good communication channel between the two. NTs need to learn how to perceive/observe/listen better, auties need to learn how to think/interpret/verbalize more.
The idea that our perceptions are limited by both genetic and social factors (epigenetics) is science, not just mysticism. Frogs for example will starve to death if they are surrounded by dead flies because their perceptual faculties can only recognize food when it’s buzzing around their heads. A rabbit that lives by the motorway soon learns to tune out the sound of cars once it “figures out” that the sound does not present a threat.
We really don’t know what we are failing to perceive, just as we can’t know which memories we have suppressed, because we don’t perceive a “hole” – we fill in the gaps and so it looks to us like a whole picture.
We need to apply logic to recognize that there are holes, just as if we look back at our past, logic tells us that the sum of all our memories cannot account for all of the time that’s passed, ergo, stuff has happened to us which we have no recall of.
One major erroneous assumption we make is that the holes can’t possibly be big ones, i.e., that there couldn’t be anything major in our past that we have forgotten, or anything significant in our perceptual field that we fail to perceive.
But evidence indicates the reverse: that it’s really profound, impacting things that get filtered out by the conscious mind (such as early experiences of abuse). The organism is hard-wired to protect itself from traumatic “data.”
Stories recount that the indigenous people couldn’t see Cortes’s ships on the ocean when the conquistadores came because they didn’t have a frame of reference for something that large on the ocean. It’s hard to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
How many times every day do you fail to notice something that is right in front of you, because for whatever reason your mind filters it out of cognition? I know I do it all the time.
My point is roughly that all humans have two functions, perception and cognition and that, due to trauma probably, there’s been a form of “cognitive denial” (like those natives staring at “alien” ships) that’s caused a split off between the two, so that we cannot cognate large portions of what we perceive, and therefore cannot perceive them.
A natural reaction to this is that the species tries to correct the imbalance by relinquishing cognitive faculties in order to let in the missing perceptual data.
Since autism entails seeing what’s been shut out by trauma-induced cognitive denial, it makes perfect sense that the NT cognitive deniers reject and fear autistics.
Parents fear their own children because they sense, rightly, that parts of themselves they have shut out of awareness are perceivable to their children. They see the “message” of their own incompleteness/distortion/inauthenticity (trauma!) in the children’s eyes and, as unfortunately is human reactive nature, they want to kill the messenger. Or cure them.
Autistics may be a “new human race” but don’t forget that nature is one eco-system and all the species have specific function in relation to one another.
I am suggesting that, since what all the species have in common is consciousness and perception, this is the underlying nature of the total system, and therefore the primary relationship between the parts is perceptual – ie, not only what one species or individual does affects the other, but what it perceives.