The incredible power of the systemising mind

​I went to see ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ recently and was blown away by the visual impact of a story I felt would be almost impossible to transfer from book to stage.

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But transfer it did, and in a spectacularly imaginative way, which gave real insight into a syndrome I have come across many times in my work as a psychotherapist and coach; Aspergers or autistic spectrum disorder, sometimes referred to as ‘systemising brain’.

I’ve written before about the systemising- empathising brain spectrum, highlighted by the work of Dr Simon Baron-Cohen. I have created a check list of indicators for clients who often want an explanation and a strategy, rather than a diagnosis.

‘Curious’ is all about Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’.

Christopher sees the world in a different way, without the instinctive ability most of us have to understand, say or do what is context-appropriate.

People on the autistic spectrum are often bombarded by too much incoming information, like a radio tuned into fifty stations at once. Yet they can also describe themselves as living ‘behind a glass wall’ and strangely separate. Many report feeling ‘different’ or ‘like the whole world is in on some joke’ that they don’t get.

They notice fine detail. Christopher explains that when we are on a train and look out of the window, we might notice some cows in a field, but he will notice how many cows, what patterns they have, what proportion have different patterns, where they are standing, how many are sitting, the plastic bag in the hedgerow and the discarded cigarette packet on the grass plus a whole lot more.

Christopher is a literal, logical, linear thinker. When somebody kills a neighbour's dog with a garden fork, he embarks on a Sherlock Holmes type investigation to find out who did it. His subsequent journey of discovery takes him to a dark place where he unearths new information which rocks his already unstable world.

Systemiser strengths

A lot has been written about the negative impact of Aspergers, such as lack of empathy, emotional meltdown, quirky dress sense or geeky, super-focus.

Less has been written however, about the strengths of the syndrome. Yet these are significant, and significant people throughout history have undoubtedly had systemising brain wiring, which has helped them to invent, innovate and create.

Bill Gates, Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Austin, Isaac Newton, Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Darwin, Mozart, Michelangelo, Thomas Edison, George Orwell and Einstein have all been identified as probably being on the spectrum.

These highly creative people all had the ability to focus with great intensity on their chosen subject yet see innovative ideas, patterns and possibilities that would likely be missed by the rest of us. As friends, partners or colleagues, systemisers are often intensely loyal. They follow the rules and have an immense sense of fair play and justice. Undoubtedly, for many on the spectrum, social skills present quite a challenge but, like all skills, these can be learned and improved.

Focusing in the positives

If you believe you may be a systemiser, whilst being aware of the challenges, concentrate on your strengths.

That sense of fair play will mean you are super-loyal and reliable at work. You may also have exceptional talents for maths, computing, music, art or memorising. You may be an intellectual and get intense pleasure from a subject or interest which you find totally absorbing and stimulating.

If tuning in to other people does not come naturally to you, you might be interested to know that this is something you can learn to do, either by experience of life and having to find a way which is comfortable for you, or by studying verbal and non verbal communication.

We are all born different.

It makes sense to notice areas of challenge and wonder what you can do to improve things, but it’s equally important to notice your many powerful gifts, talents and abilities.

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....