A short cut to understand attention in Chinese medicine



“Attention are the key to understand how people move around in your world.  This topic are a must for all practitioners of Chinese medicine. So, enjoy.”

Nils Volden




Long ago we lived as nomads, and our lives were possible less complicated. Our brain developed to manage the challenges that existed in that habitat with that lifestyle.  Multitasking was less necessary then than now.


Now we need to multitask all the time. Perhaps we find women as better multitaskers than men, but still multitasking is not a developed part of the human mind. Inattentional blindness or perceptual blindness is a situation that occurs when a person fails to see something in plain sight. The term was invented by Arien Mack and Irvin Rock in 1992 to describe these phenomena.


Inattentional blindness occurs when a person does not manage to follow all the stimuli that exist, or to put it in another terminology when our Zhuyi (attention) are too occupied with Sou fang (spotlight) on a Yi ding (one area). The key indication is the failure to notice something unexpectable that is fully visible; something that normally should have seen. Remember attention is a dangerous ability to lose.


Again, before we lived in a predictable world, and that made this type of cognitive multitasking less needed. Soufang might also be named cognitive tunnelling; the person is over focused on something, and oversees something else.


Chinese psychology states that almost everything that is observed of stimuli is absorbed by the mind. Making Yi absorbs most information that exists around the person, but Shen select Sou fang, and thereby Yi ding. Yi ding is the selected important information that starts to circulate between Hun and Zhi. Only when Yi is in a state of Qi xu or a Yang xu state we find a lack of absorbed information; making Sou fang to take an external selection of information instead of an internal. In other words; Yi qi xu or Yi yang xu will create a Sou feng selection of information in Biao (branches), and if the body is healthy we find the Sou feng selection of information to happen in Shen as a result of Ben (root). Making both Ben – and Biao Sou fang co-exist.


The activation of the different Sou fang will largely depend on the persons Qi and the amount of stimuli creating the persons unique Ganzhi (perception) of the world. If Ganzhi is very demanding for a person thinking about all the information after a strong Sou fang we find the resources of the person being consumed and as a result the person have no remains to process other stimuli. We got two variables here that are Shouyi (attention): Yang and 记忆 Jìyì (memory): Yin. Shouyi is the filling of the mind closely related to Shen and Yi. Jiyi is the using of the stored, closely related to Yi and Zhi. Not all Ganzhi problems are Shouyi related. Often we find problems in Jiyi causing problems in taking out information that exist. We also have the problem in transporting Jiyi from Yi to Zhi; short term memory to the long term memory. We have mentioned before information in Yi will stay active for just a few seconds before it starts to sink into the subconscious and soon later unconscious; making some information being lost and thereby causing inattentional amnesia. Inattentional amnesia is the failure in making a lasting memory; transforming a memory in Yi to Zhi.


The actual information processing is always important when speaking about inattentional blindness, but we also need to include the aspect of 预料 Yùliào or expectation. Yuliao (expectation) means that the person needs to be prepared for stimuli to observe it without problems. The main problem is not only Zhuyi (attention), but rather a mix between Sou fang (spotlight) on a different Yi ding (one area) and being unprepared for this Yuliao. When a persons is not lined up to pay attention to or the Qi in Zhuyi is not circulating properly in the given area of focus (Yi ding) the person might go blind. Illusionists often put a woman into a box and pulls out a tiger a few seconds later. Since our Zhuyi is totally unprepared we go blind. Well mixed with a strong Sou fang on a distinct Yi ding we get fooled. If the viewers are told to pay attention to Tigers or vanishing women the trick starts to fail. A Zhuyi qi xu (weak attention) will create inattentional blindness. This leads us to divide two antagonists Zhuyi (attention) and 觉悟 Juéwù (awareness or “to wake up from sleep”). We need to know the difference between attention and awareness to understand “the Zhuyi – Juewu dyad”; if it is any difference. You pay attention to something, and you become aware of something. Attention is to consciously isolate a sensory input from others; look at a flower among many. You can be aware of a flower that you never have seen; a subconscious process in a conscious mind. You become aware of an event you later attend to. As we all know that attention shortens our reaction time, but if we show attention to something that we have been made aware about before we find our reaction time become even faster.


This two aspects act independent in the mind on a behavioural level. Coming back to awareness we find two types: Phenomenal and Access. Phenomenal awareness is perceptual information; often visual. Access awareness is the ability to rapport the information; making phenomenal awareness being that your system gets to know about a type of information, and Access awareness being that you become aware of this information. Perhaps it is better to see Attention and awareness as to stages in information processing. Attention observes shift in the stimuli, and awareness is the conscious awareness of the stimuli. Your attention gives you the characteristics of stimuli. Inattentional blindness occurs when an unexpected stimuli resembles the perceived stimuli. It is possible to give many examples, but one that is especially interesting is 沦灭 Lúnmiè, the phenomenon of extinction. You might report a stimulus on the affected side, but when a second stimulus occurs on the non-affected side you will go blind to the first stimuli. Lunmie (extinction) occurs when the Shen put the information from healthy side in front of sick side. Some might argue that this is related to Yangsheng; treat healthy to cure sick. Of course, Lunmie does not have the same expectation as inattentional blindness. Another important aspect is Inattentional agnosia. This occurs when you see a stimulus, but consciously cannot identify what it is. When a stimulus is not encoded as something special it might be forgotten faster; when it goes away people does not notice it. Changed blindness is when a person has difficulties to notice differences in something visual. Inattentional blindness happens when a person fail to spot something, and change blindness happens when a person fail is seeing the difference between to imagines. Making one an identification error and the other a memory error; read what you see or recollect what you know.


Now we are back to the actual information processing; the main brick in understanding inattentional blindness. Meaning our Yuliao (expectation) for a distinct stimulus makes us observe with great ease. We also need to be aware of the fact that the main problem is not Zhuyi (attention), but rather a mix between Sou fang (spotlight) on a different Yi ding (one area) and being unprepared for this Yuliao (expectation). Are you expecting a car on the road, and it comes a horse on the sidewalk you are likely to not see it.



The article continues with treatment suggestions later…




The writer of this article gives seminars in Chinese medicine and Chinese psychology all over the world! Go to this page to find out how.


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