Seeing the Impossible
One of my favourite stories from developmental psych — WAIT, Don’t Go! There are kittens . . . with a happy ending . . . and it’s a short story . . . .
As I was saying, one of my favourite stories involved an experiment that deprived kittens of a full world visual experience. One group of the kittens had no visual experience other than vertical rods and the other had only horizontal rods. I’m going to jump to the happy ending in case you’re like me and get really pissy about damage to animals: all the kittens learned to adapt to the real world.
But before they adapted, the kittens whose only visual experience had been vertical rods had no ability to deal with horizontal elements in their environment. They couldn’t jump onto chairs – or off them, for that matter.
The kittens with no vertical experience did things like bump into table legs.
Again, the kittens were able to adapt and they all enjoyed kitten-y frolics. And lived happily ever after.
The point for us is . . . . many of us have lived lives deprived of areas of experience.
Some grew up with a surly father who taught brothers to be surly and never experienced men being kind. Some had no mother or other parent to cuddle and never learnt about the comforts of touch. Some had uproarious households and never knew there were possibilities to be calm.
We’ve all got blind spots. And, like the kittens, with experience, we can adapt.
As we enter this new year, what do we want to train ourselves to see? Where can we learn to adapt?
Just because it’s not in our experience so far doesn’t mean it can’t be.
See the impossible!
As always, I can help you make the connections to your “real” life. Here‘s where to find me.