The idea of a mental ‘blind spot’ may imply some kind of deficiency of cognitive ability, but psychologist Madeleine L. Van Hecke argues in her book Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things that even people who are very astute and intellectually capable can suffer lapses in reasonable behavior based on awareness.
She argues that “much of what we label stupidity can better be explained as blind spots” (according to a summary by the publisher).
“Just as the blind spot in the driver’s side mirror can swallow up a passing car, patterns in the way we think can likewise become blind spots, sifting out information and observations that to other people seem obvious.
“Drawing on research in creativity, cognitive psychology, critical thinking, child development, education, and philosophy, Dr. Van Hecke shows how our assets as thinkers create the very blind spots that become our worst liabilities.”
In his book Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, psychologist Kenneth W. Christian, PhD describes patterns of thinking and behaving that are also kinds of self-limiting “blind spots.”
He writes about “Self Limiting High Potential Persons” who “etch enduring pathways over time by repeating their characteristic self-defeating methods… this tendency can evolve into a general self-limiting style.”
One style is “Self-Doubters / Self-Attackers” – people who “block their success by holding high standards they feel they can never possibly meet and for which they therefore seldom strive. … Paradoxically, they use self-criticism to defend themselves. By attacking themselves, they say, Though I did not achieve all I could, at least I do not accept myself”
Writer Karen Salmansohn lists several “tips to rev up your mind, so it’s less likely to create blind spots” in her HuffingtonPost entry The 1-Minute Therapist – including: “watch out for information overload. Limit the amount of paperwork on your desk so you can better see what matters most… Avoid your tendency to habituate with the same ol’ rituals. Start to try new things. Visit new places. Walk a different way to work…”
“Even more important than an open mind — have ‘Beginner’s Mind.’ In Buddhism ‘Beginner’s Mind’ is described as the pure lens with which a person who is absolutely new to a situation sees a situation. There’s a famous Buddhist quote: ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.’ Children unwittingly have Beginner’s Mind — hence why kids are often smarter than adults at problem-solving puzzles!”
Developing ourselves to be competent, even excellent, may be a life long journey – but we can travel better by watching out for our blind spots.
Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, by Robert J. Sternberg – Director of The PACE Center of Yale University for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise.
In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life – by Robert Kegan
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki.
Striving for achievement – interview with Kenneth Christian, Ph.D.
Article publié pour la première fois le 07/06/2015