Saturday, October 23, 2004

Adult Lifespan Journal Entry #2

Cognitive Development

I research for fun and relaxation. While experiencing clinical depression in my later twenties, I found solace in researching topics like industrial waste treatments, naturally occurring soap in plants, and alternate house building methods, in addition to being introduced to the field of psychoanalysis. Even during the worst part of my depression, I could recall New Testament parables with just a few details given.

Being good in math most of my life, I would plan gardens, waste treatment systems and self-sufficient homesteads down to all the technicalities I could think of. I even wrote down a five year plan to start a natural soap business and even learn how to make my own soaps. Pulling from my knowledge of chemistry, I created a "primer" for people ignorant in the history of alchemy. I taught myself how to make stained glass art and several needlework techniques.

I also developed my creative writing ability by writing poems, short stories and even a couple of novels. Some of the poetry and short stories have be published in other publications, but outside of a poetry book I self-published, I haven't received a dime for my creative works and do them mainly for my own peace of mind. Though I have received some money for my crafts and sewing ability.

I have always been considered above average intelligence. I don't think that it is possible to get a clear picture of my intelligence from the normal tests. I say this because I found after I was able to get my anxiety disorder under control, I found that my mental ability increased noticeably. On average, I had a jump about 30 IQ points according to the tests I did for about six month period. However, my mental abilities vary greatly with my stress levels and physical state.

Five years ago I would have told you the Sternberg's aspect of intelligence I was strongest in was componential intelligence. However, as I have explored and developed more, it has turns out that this is not the case. My strongest Sternberg aspect is actually experiential. I have had this pointed out and confirmed by at least two professionals in the mental health field. Though in my case, it has been compounded according to these same professionals to the fact I use my preconscious mind differently than other people. Whereas most people have a brick wall will gates and occasional windows on the boundary between their conscious and unconscious, I have the equivalent of a rod iron fence between my conscious and unconscious, which allows me to make connections others miss, while still having a definite boundary between the two. Unfortunately, this has become more of a hindrance than a help for me. Because I make connections between several sources, I come across as very strange to most people. When I try to explain the connections that lead to my conclusions, I either lose people or I become agitated and end up sounding insane. My best friend and some other people, however, do have the interest and patience to hear me through and enjoy my insights. I am often correct, but it helps to have people who are patient enough to wade through my explanations, because I can miss something.

This ability to pull from several sources mentally and a permeable boundary between the conscious and subconscious has another side effect. I get overwhelmed easily when I am trying to downshift to relate to others. When I am able to talk to my friend Roberta and a few others who can think fast enough to keep up with me, it is an amazing and heady experience. I wonder if part of my anxiety disorder is due to my inability to verbally explain myself off the cuff.

However, this same ability does make me an excellent one-on-one tutor. When explaining someone else's ideas or concepts, I am capable to find analogies that my pupils can relate to, including my own mother in algebra. Adding to this the knowledge of poetry and historical archetypes, I have been able to help several people to release their own creativity in writing. I plan to use this ability to bring the ability of written creative expression in my future career as well as in the visual arts.

As for my moral development, I have reached a cross between Kolhberg's seventh stage of "Why be moral?" and the second transition of Carol Gilligan's feminine moral system - "going from goodness to truth". My divorce and experiences re-entering the workforce has lead me to this level. I still revert to the lower levels at times and I have never been a physically violent person, but I am not to Gilligan's level three "morality of nonviolence". I still cause harm to myself and sometimes to others using the written word. I have eliminated this in my vocal communications, though.

I'm hoping that I can continue to develop my cognitive abilities and find a way to harness my unique abilities to benefit my life and others. My goals are to create a new medium for therapy and a series of workbooks to help others get in touch with the archetypes inside themselves. I plan to document my thoughts and works as I go, so when I do reach late adulthood, I have enough material to put together a definitive work on human experience. I realize this sounds a bit grandiose, but I think anyone could do the same if they tried to.

And if I don't write this work, at least I won't have to worry so much about forgetting parts of my life. I just need to make sure I set up a good retrieval system for myself. Or I could just leave it to my posterity and let them sort everything out.

No comments: