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Monday, March 4, 2013

Asperger's, Bach Flowers and "Being Frank"
I write a lot about emotions. I've written lots about how many people seem to take on the emotions of others and this phenomenon seems to be increasing as more and more people reveal their empathic selves. Perhaps this is Vagus Nerve development happening.  Whatever the reason, such an openness to the emotions of others and the energy around us, right-brain thinking, can be both positive and negative. It seems to always come down to balance and that's where Bach Flower essences "do their magic".

But it seems at the same time as we are seeing more empathy in the world, we are also developing an increased awareness  to what might be seen as, an almost opposite attitude; left-brain dominance, and a closing off to the emotions of others.  I think one of the measuring sticks for observing our awareness of something is pop culture and what becomes "themes" in movies and T.V.  Sheldon, in the popular sit-com "Big Bang Theory" seems to characterize left- brain dominance. He's brilliant in a logical, scientific, factual, way and yet he misses clues and cues from the emotions of others.  He's "awkward" we might say in social contexts as a result.  Temperance Brennen in the crime series "Bones" also seems to be missing some of the "understanding the emotions of others" that most people find natural, although she seems to be developing them with the help of her love interest partner as this series moves along. In the original episodes at least, she would often blurt out things or seem surprised when people took offence to something she would say. She didn't always understand references others made to social norms and in fact, pop culture.  She's a scientist, very focused on her work to and excludes the emotional aspect of things. Sometimes that works and sometimes, not so well. Where am I going with this? Well...

In this months' Bach Flower Practitioner Newsletter that comes out from the Bach Centre there was an article by Barbara Murphy BFRP about Asperger's Syndrome. She mentioned how Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock in the "Sherlock" T.V. series portrays an excellent example of the top end of Asperger's Syndrome. Murphy writes that Asperger's is sometimes considered an Autism Spectrum disorder, first described by Hans Asperger in 1944. Murphy writes:
" the right-brain- the emotional and intuitive functions- doesn't connect properly with the left-brain, which dominates. People affected are strong in logical, rational thought and tend to gravitate towards careers in IT, science or engineering (although they can be found in every sphere and several are film directors). However, they experience problems in three broad areas: social interaction and relationships; verbal and non-verbal communication; imagination, emotional behavior and flexibility of thought"
People with Asperger's are not likely to seek a "cure" or think they need anything.  Just ask "Sheldon" or "Sherlock", or "Tempe" in the Bones Series. They function well, amazingly well often, within themselves. It's only when they are thrown into society that they may have difficulties. They do tend to suffer from anxiety or depression and bewilderment or uncertainty because they don't understand how their actions affect others.  To me, that sounds like anxiety producing effects for a parent of a child with Asperger's. In fact, that kind of disconnection between cause and effect on the playground and in the classroom may create a whole bunch of problems for everyone, and can set you down a slippery slope.

As a Bach Flower Practitioner, Barbara Murphy sees the connection between the healing balance of Bach Flower essences and the disconnection for those with Aspergers's or the problems that may be manifested. Sceleranthus with it's balancing properties might be very helpful The intolerance of others might be helped with Beech, or Impatiens. Water Violet might help to develop warmer relationships. Cherry Plum could be critical if there is a point when everything can turn violent pretty quickly. The point is really, that any of the 38 essences might be helpful because people with Asperger's are individuals just like everyone else.

The "trick" is, it may be hard to figure out which essence to use because by definition the person with Asperger really doesn't "feel" emotions the way most people do. This may be the time to really enlist the observations of others, like a caring parent, to work closely with the Bach Practitioner to find the right match, observing the changes and issues along the way. In some cases you might be working to match the positive aspect of the Bach essence with the emotion that seems to be "missing" rather than trying to soothe the emotion that is at the forefront which is usually the case in matching the essences.

So... I was thinking about all of this, when a message popped into my In-Box about the children's book "Being Frank".  I am easily distracted, I've already admitted that... so I read the book.  I don't believe in chance coincidences because I do work very much with my right brain/intuition.  And I feel this book could be really helpful to Asperger kids.  I don't think that's where the authors were going when they created the book but it's what I see when I read it. It helps explain how that "frank", comment, while honest and factual might not get you the result you're looking for. Frank isn't encouraged to lie, rather he becomes aware of how he could pick an honest fact that could keep both his integrity and the other person's feelings intact.  Hmm... Sounds like balance to me.  Maybe we could all use a bit of that. "Being Frank" is today's picture, you can click on the caption below to take you to Flashlight Press, the publisher and check it out for yourself. While you're there check out some of Flashlight's other books.  In my opinion they are publishing some really illuminating stuff.

Maybe some of the things that we think "come naturally" really aren't all that natural.  Maybe we could all use some balance to allow both sides of our brains to work together rather than fighting with each other or outright ignoring the other side. Maybe the reason we are more aware of both right brained empathic pain and left brained Asperger pain is because we are starting to see the need to connect, to understand, and to find balance.

But, "let's be frank", maybe all can use the balance of a Bach Flower now and then...

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