Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dyslexia and Emotional Memory

This is a question that has been puzzling me for years. If you know anything about the dyslexic brain - either as an expert or an owner - please take a moment to write a comment below.

It's like this: I am dyslexic. I have a cluster of abilities and disabilities that fit beautifully with the classic description of the condition. But I also have one or two other attributes that seem far enough off the norm to be noteworthy, which I haven't seen mentioned in books on dyslexia. One of these is an ability to recall emotions. I call it 'emotional memory'. It is tied closely with a very strong sense of empathy - whereby I tend to pick up on other people's emotional state very easily.

I use this in my writing, of course. If I am writing about a character in a certain situation, I find I know what they would be feeling and start to feel it myself. Then all I have to do is write it down. Not always pleasant for me, but it seems to work.

I have asked experts if this emotional memory is related to dyslexia. They say 'no'. But I am not so sure. I have known several highly empathetic dyslexics. Also, I'm not sure that this would be easy to test in a scientific study. And even if it could be tested, it doesn't relate to the process of learning to read and write, so may not be of interest to the educational establishment.

So how about it? Are you dyslexic? Do you find you know what people are feeling before others do? Or maybe you are a dyslexic and don't pick up on other people's feelings. Either answer would be interesting to me. Are you an expert on dyslexia? Have you read a study on this subject that concludes one way or the other? Any input would be valuable.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


secretscribe said...

Firstly, I’d like to say I’m not dyslexic and no expert on the subject. However, from your comments I’d say you’re likely to be what some expert’s call “Emotionally Intelligent” which shows up many of the traits you say you experience.

Having a strong sense of empathy is probably the biggest tell tale sign, some say it is almost a psychic ability which you can use to feel or read the emotions of other people. By tuning into their feelings you are able to affect their emotions with either negative or positive results.

As a writer it's a wonderful ability to have, not only do you walk in your characters shoes, you're also able to get into their minds, and as you say, share their deepest emotions.

I wonder have you ever met other “creative types” and immediately thought that you are both on the same wave length.

It is said that those with Emotional Intelligence are often able to spot others easily.


thirdeyeindigo said...

EQ is my highest sense, I work in a reastruant and can often guess what kind of work my customers do just by observing them. I can see facial charactoristics of care takers, or those who work with children. When someone who works with sick kids carries both these charactoristics in a deeper way. I can see feelings in peoples postures, facial or physical.

Rod Duncan said...

Thanks for this comment, thirdeyeindigo. I'd be interested to know more. Do you consider yourself to be dyslexic?

Clearly this isn't any kind of scientific study. Just a quick poll of blog browsers. But if I do find a number of dyslexics reporting this kind of highly developed EQ, it would certainly be interesting.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I remember Michael Caine being interviewed by Parkie (chat-show host). He explained how he is able to cry on demand when acting. He said that there was a particular memory that he had that had made him cry at the time. Any time he recalls this memory, he starts to cry.

He started to cry as he explained, as he was unable to say what he did without remembering the incident.

Mom of three smart girls! said...

I am not Dyslexic....

I do have three daughters, my younger two have dyslexia. The middle child who is 11 years old is extremely emotional and has strong sense of empanthy for people and animals. She is also extremely concerned about the environment. She will be the first to notice trees removed.

As we were visting a Elderly care home this past week end (Hearts and Hooves) my daughter, can still feel the emotions after leaving. To this point she can still cry about the touching moments experienced and the for the people she was unable to meet.

Rod Duncan said...

Thanks for the comment, mom of three smart girls.

That empathetic sense is a powerful quality to have. It can be a driving force in a person's life. Not that is is always easy to live with that degree of empathy. But I'm sure your daughter will put it to great use.