Monday, 19 January 2015

Why right brained autism manifests differently

"Caetextia" from the Latin: - caecus: blind and contextus: context
context blindness caused by an inability to keep track of multiple interconnecting variables and to reprioritise any change in those variables by referring to a wider field that contains the history of them. This causes people with caetextia to resort to one of two mental modus operandi: logical, straight-line thinking or thinking by random associations. 
Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell first coined the term "caetextia" in 2007 to describe the most dominant manifestation of autistic behaviour at the highest levels of the autistic spectrum.

This article was first published in the Human Givens Journal Vol 15, No 4 (2008) and the paper presented and illustrated with numerous filmed examples of Caetextic behaviour at a MindFields College (Now Human Givens College) Advanced Studies Course and also at the Human Givens Institute Conference in 2009 [Video].

We have received many emails from visitors to the website who are excited to find a new and simple explanation for what they are going through. Right brained dominant people in particular feel that this explanation of autism strikes a chord with their own experiences.


Left and right - The brain develops specialisations

As the intelligence system evolved in humans, our higher cortex became more complex and its left and right hemispheres developed specialisations for different processes. Whilst maintaining the ability to interact with and complement each other, the hemispheres developed exponentially to support rational and contextual thinking. Human language and thought, for example, are primarily ordered through the left hemisphere, which sequences and structures information moment by moment in a way that fosters reason. But our logical thinking is informed, and also coloured, by associative thinking and imagination, both faculties that emanate from the right hemisphere. Whereas previously we had relied on instinctive responses to keep us safe, once the cortex developed in modern humans we became able consciously to review feelings and not just act on them. In other words, we could investigate what was going on around us with a more refined reasoning ability.

What happens when context is unavailable?

But when people are missing the mammalian ‘parallel processing’ template for handling multiple streams of information (caetextia), they are forced to try and resolve problems by other means. If a person is left-brain dominant, we see Asperger’s behaviour as traditionally recognised: literal, logical, analytical reactions with difficulties in communication and empathy because of a severely diminished ability to think contextually.

This happens because the left neocortex is itself ‘autistic’ — it doesn’t have access to the feelings that create context. But if a person is right-brain dominant and is missing the template for reading context, we suggest that caetextia may express itself through an undisciplined, very strong imagination.

The right brain looks always for associations, so, without a strong left brain to moderate the myriad associations that the right brain makes, a person with caetextia cannot discipline them and check them out. The associations made are unlikely to be the right ones because, without access to a personal emotional history, they are not anchored in reality. The constant, undisciplined association-making can lead not only to inappropriate but often quite bizarre thoughts and behaviour.

Right brained caetextia

Right-brained caetextia is caused by a lack of instinctive feelings to moderate the person’s thoughts and behaviour, leaving the mind to run free, making directionless, random associations. Because a right-brained caetextic person is more emotional, it may seem odd to suggest that their condition is due to a lack of instinctive feelings, but it is the lack of emotional instincts to discipline associations that give rise to problems.

Scientists researching decision making have determined that it is emotion, fired by imagination, that prioritises decision making, not logic. “Emotions arise when events or outcomes are relevant for one’s concerns or preferences and they prioritise behaviour that acts in service of these concerns” (our italics). Both right- and left-brained caetextia result in black-and-white thinking. Indeed, when heavily stressed, we can all become temporarily caetextic: prone to black-and-white, irrational behaviour and faulty reasoning.

More women than men

The contention that Asperger’s syndrome is overwhelmingly a male condition, with the male-to female ratio ranging up to 15:1, is not consistent with our clinical experience. As psychotherapists we see more females than men with his condition and, even taking into account that more women than men come for therapy, we believe that the prevalence of Asperger’s syndrome in women is underestimated.

We would suggest that females are much more likely than males to suffer from right-brain caetextia, and that clinicians are not yet recognising this expression of Asperger’s syndrome.

This could be because, although in right-brain caetextia we see the same inability to track multiple foci of attention and think contextually, such people have ready access to emotions in a way that left-brain dominant caetextics, who, in our experience, are predominantly male, do not.

Right brain caetextics can become emotional quickly and very, very easily, crying at the slightest upset, for instance. This accessibility of emotion, much more common in women generally, disguises the caetextia. However, they are sometimes just as poor at interpersonal intelligence as those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. They also lack empathy and cannot see how inappropriate their behaviour or beliefs appear to others.


Read the whole article at

A one day training course on how to treat context blindness and enlarge people's perspective.

The paradox that cannabis can both exacerbate and alleviate mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, paranoia and anxiety whilst giving rise to imagination and creativity has never been resolved. However, a new theory which places the human givens model for psychosis in a wider context could offer an explanation for the conflicting effects. - Cannabis induced caetextia and the paradoxical effects of cannabis

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