The people I've been considering in this series - synesthetes, savants, the autistic, the highly sensitive, the gifted, the prodigious, the psychic - quite possibly retain a degree of access to the universal 'foreground' of all life.
Young children around the world are known to spontaneously volunteer recollections that seem to be about someone else’s life. The degree to which these children show heightened emotion in recounting such apparent memories is a tip-off that something truly significant is going on.
Young children sometimes blurt out statements about things that obviously move them but seem very much beyond the pale of what they’ve read or encountered. Is the capacity genetic – a sort of ancestral memory? Here, a closer look at a truly mystifying capacity.
Penetrating intellect, reservoir of energy, passion and drive, empathetic embrace of others – these qualities distinguish prodigies and other highly gifted children. Most striking of all, though, is their intuitive understanding that all life is connected.
Every savant draws upon a prodigious, almost uncanny memory. But what happens in the brain to cause this? Why are almost all savants male? And how do ‘normal’ people sometimes become savants in a single stroke?
A maternal infection during pregnancy – or the occurrence of stress, trauma, injury, deprivation, or exposure to environmental toxins – could cause the fetal brain to be hyper-connected, setting the stage for conditions (including autism) where sensitivity is prominent.
People who seem to be "tuned out" of social interaction may, counter-intuitively, have become that way not because they have a deficit of empathy or mental/social apparatus, but because they have fled from too much sensory or emotional input.
Hippocrates famously said, “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” This remains true today - where the latest discoveries about PTSD are shedding light on the intersection of mind, body, and emotion.