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Discussion Forum > Rational and intuitive mind

Mark F's descriptions of Autofocus have repeatedly advanced as a benefit of the method that it deploys both the rational and the intuitive halves of the brain.

What is this driving at? Is there a well known psychological principle being called on here? If there is, what is it called, and who are the relevant expert academics? Is it at the heart of other processes in other walks of life? I would like to read more about it.
January 24, 2009 at 12:02 | Unregistered CommenterDavid C
In essence, I would say that AF is practical mysticism...if one defines mysticism as the blending of the conscious mind with that which is superconscious / unconscious / beyond-conscious / intuitive / universal / (insert your favourite label here)...

In that case, you probably have many hundreds of years of writings to refer to from many enlightened minds throughout history. Enough reading for you?<grin>
January 24, 2009 at 13:33 | Unregistered CommenterFrank
See Betty Edwards "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" for an introduction to the notion of right brain/left brain concepts. I haven't looked at this book for a while but seem to remember that there is a bibliography pointing to other research. (It's a book for artist's and folks who want to learn to draw - or should I say remember how to draw). Also a search on Amazon or google for right brain and left brain ideas should find something. Local libraries (at least in the UK) seem to have copies of the Betty Edwards book.

Basically the right brain is thought by brain researchers to handle intuitive thinking and the left brain analytical, logical thought. Using some of each can be very helpful in a number of activities. Drawing and painting calls for each type at various points in your work and it seems time management also works best with a combination...

Hope this helps a bit?
January 24, 2009 at 15:48 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
"Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind" by Guy Claxton

Search through the archives of these blogs:

I also piped a search on "integrating rational and intuitive mind" into Google Scholar, and it spit back 32,000+ references:

One of the first documents retrieved is a 1990 study:
W Taggart, E Valenzi - Journal of Management Studies, 1990

I think the Harvard Business Journal has also run many articles on decision making that stresses rational/intuitive. Also search Malcolm Gladwell's web site; he's done a few articles on this issue also.

January 24, 2009 at 16:07 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
We are talking about understanding human consciousness, a subject about which there has been much research over the past two decades. Inevitably, for a subject like this, there has been little consensus.

For some rigorous explorations of the idea that much of what we do, say, and write occurs on a level that is not conscious, see:

Damasio. The Feeling of What Happens.
Wegner. The Illusion of Conscious Will.
Dennett. Consciousness Explained.
Jaynes. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.
January 24, 2009 at 16:11 | Unregistered Commentermoises
Dennet's view on consciousness makes me cringe!

There are too many book's to mention.

I found Malcom Gladwell's book 'Blink' and reminds me most of AF. Entertaining to read, there's a dosing of research findings in there too as he talked with academics researching how people make snap judgements and the like. Amazon will give you a decent description.

January 24, 2009 at 16:50 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
I would also add:

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker which is about how we can subconsciously be aware of things which consciously we are denying.

And for a more academic examination of these issues try Plous's "The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making".
January 24, 2009 at 20:06 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
And look at this wikipedia entry, which goes into a little more detail on the right/left brain separation, which has been built up more by popularizers than by neuroscientists:

Lateralization of brain function - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
January 25, 2009 at 1:46 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
In my experience it also helps to remind the conscious mind of the possibilities and advantages of working with the "shadow", the unexplored talents and abilities. For example, push all your negative feelings about yourself “out in front of you and give them a face and body. This figure is the embodiment of everything you feel insecure about.
March 28, 2014 at 22:21 | Unregistered Commentermichael

Just to remind our readers, this ties in with the remarks you made recently on:
March 29, 2014 at 19:02 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark: Two years later and I have a follow-up thought!

Even though you stress productivity as creativity x efficiency I still seem wedded to the idea that productivity is a fast assembly-line type of working. As a result I tend to use efforting first and intuition second. Then I tried an experiment. I took some time for deliberate relaxation first and then (gently, inquiringly) posed some questions to my "intuition". I was pleased at the insights that came back so will continue with the idea that part of creativity must be deliberate relaxation and insight before goal-setting.
January 25, 2017 at 14:44 | Unregistered Commentermichael
...excited follow-up. It turns out that a therapist called Eugene Gendlin developed an explicit process for this (called Focusing) which suggests you direct attention to the body after posing yourself a question, especially the stomach and throat areas.

Perhaps deciding what to do is better regarded as a whole-body hazy and uncertain slow process more than an intellectual response, as Guy Caxton suggests in his book.
January 25, 2017 at 22:02 | Unregistered Commentermichael

Your description of Focusing sounds familiar. I think I used this quite a lot around twenty years ago - that or something similar.

The questioning techniques in "Secrets of Productive People" are the result of my experiments with various techniques in this area - my own and other people's.
January 26, 2017 at 5:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Questioning my body works very well. Christopher Germer has some great meditations to help identify where, and to be ok with it.

The sternum is another point that collects stress. It's definitely where mine collects.
January 26, 2017 at 16:37 | Registered CommenterCricket
One approach I use is documented at in case anyone wants to follow-up.
February 12, 2017 at 20:12 | Unregistered Commentermichael
Friedman's list looks like it can be used in a lot of ways, deep or light, taking notes or not. We can focus on the actual answers, or how the questions or tentative answers make us feel. Focus on solutions or just being ok with the problems. A useful addition to both my meditation-methods and journal-prompts files. Thanks!
February 14, 2017 at 19:15 | Registered CommenterCricket
"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman is the most obvious and renowned work on this process that springs to mind.
February 17, 2017 at 10:24 | Unregistered CommenterNeil C