No Virginia, You're Not Crazy. You're Just Highly Intuitive

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I recently read a book that changed my life.

The Highly Intuitive Child by Catherine Crawford explained me to myself in ways that 11 years in university, a PhD in Psychology, and two years working in the profession failed to do.

In this short book, Crawford describes a certain kind of kid who is especially sensitive, especially intuitive, and especially empathic and who teaches parents how to nurture and care for them in a world that makes them feel they are crazy, "too sensitive," or just plain old weird.

It's time to come out of the closet.

I was one of those weird and crazy kids. I was a highly intuitive child, and now, I am a highly intuitive adult. I'm no longer ashamed to admit it.

As a child, and now as an adult, my experience in the world is absorbing a lot -- a lot -- of information from people -- spoken and unspoken. This means that I "get" energy fields and notice minuscule fluctuations in facial expressions and body language. It means that I am exquisitely, sometimes painfully, sensitive to other people's conscious and unconscious feelings and thoughts that get absorbed and experienced as my own feelings or sometimes as unexplained physical pain.

Psychologists sometimes call this phenomena counter-transference. It's when your patient's feelings get transferred to you, and you, in turn, absorb them as you own. Being a highly intuitive child or adult means having counter-transference all the time, but instead of one-on-one in a closed place where it's under control as in therapy, it's everywhere and with everyone.

You have wild, prophetic dreams. You are like my six-year old Goddaughter, a highly intuitive child, who cries when her two-year old sister cries because she literally feels the pain as her own. You pick up on the undercurrents and read between the lines of every conversation.

It's exhausting, but it's also wonderful in its own way.

The most valuable thing I learned from reading this book is that other cultures have a name and a place for this kind of personality. Instead of being perceived as odd, highly intuitive children are matched with mentors who understand them and help them hone their sensitivities as a gift to be used wisely and with compassion in the world.

Intuitive manners are a case in point. Crawford describes the Hawaiian Huna cultural practice of elders teaching "intuitive manners" to children in quite the same way that a North American parent might teach their kid table manners. For example, you don't just walk up to someone and announce what you intuitively see/sense/perceive about them. It's rude and unfair to the other person who doesn't quite see it in the same way you do and may not be prepared to hear you out.

Essentially the lesson is the same for everyone. We all operate, feel, think, see, perceive, and manage others and ourselves in the world in strikingly different ways, but we simultaneously assume that everyone is like us, sees it the way we do, or wants, and can communicate in the same tone we are speaking in.

What makes highly intuitive people seem crazy, weird or inappropriate is that they -- we -- are operating on another frequency where we perceive and know things that cannot be seen or proven. We, like everyone else, also wrongly assume, sometimes with disastrous consequences, that other people not only see what we see, but that they want to hear us speak and acknowledge our truths.

Crawford illuminates the fact that while this frequency isn't so popular, it is just as valid as anyone else's way of operating in the world, even if it's often misunderstood. With a little practice, a little patience, and a little instruction, our very experience of being can drastically change for the better.

All of us, no matter what our sensitivities or personalities are like could use a book like this. I wish life came with more operating instructions like this one.