The Trials of the Dumb

Not everyone is equally able, psychologically. The more intelligent you are, the better you can engage with and comprehend the world. Those of us who are intellectually compromised, through birth defect, illness, inherited incapacity, must live a more dream-like and bewildered existence, preyed on by inexplicable monsters that appear out of nowhere.

We anorexics lack the mental energy to picture the future with any clarity. We are left with the vaguest, theoretical glimpses. We’ve abandoned any personal goals or plans to struggle with present problems. They loom up, hugely, right in the foreground of our consciousness, and demand to be dealt with immediately.

We are reactive. We are driven by compulsive habitudes that we’ve developed to assuage these anxieties. Any negative consequences of our comforting rituals will just have to be dealt with later. That’s why we can starve ourselves to death by accident. And Anorexia is a self-fuelling engine. The thinner you get, the more anxious and uncertain you become, the more you need an urgent, controlling obsession to occupy and comfort you.

When it comes to our relationships, we lack imaginative empathy. Through insomnia and malnutrition, we are operating a skeleton neural service. We understand, in a technical, theoretical, almost mathematical way, how other people might be feeling, or how their thoughts work. We can deduce what they’re likely to say or do (or say they think), but we don’t get it on an emotional level. Is this similar to autism? Is it similar to sociopathy?

We don’t feel the impact or the importance of words, relationships, events, something most people do so easily and automatically that they don’t even realise they’re doing it. Our cognition has flattened out. It’s all surface, whereas theirs has depth and intensity. There’s a spiritual dimension, a profundity, to other people’s reflections that we simply don’t share. It’s all one to us – life, death, other people…

Going from our perspective to theirs would be like seeing a 3rd dimension suddenly spring out from a flat picture surface, endowing it with substance, bringing some things to prominence over others, making sense of a crowded jumble of shapes.

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