Psychologists believe such hunches are prompts from the adaptive unconscious. I read somewhere that this adaptive unconscious is a mechanism in the brain that processes an ocean of sensory information, sorting it, inferring causes, judging people and influencing feelings and behaviour – all without our conscious mind being aware.
These hidden powers of perception are what allow people to “see the invisible”. Most of us have had remarkably accurate intuitions that seem to spring from nowhere. We often refer these mysterious flashes of insight as hunches, gut feelings, animal instinct or even sixth sense.
Upon analysing, all of the above were actually the subconscious processing of memory and physical clues. I have also noticed that in many emergency situations, we hardly stop to weigh options or make conscious decisions. We would usually leap into action, following our gut instincts.
Intuition is actually a two-step linking and checking process. First, we rapidly sort memories, looking for a familiar pattern to guide us. Then, as we follow the plan that worked in an earlier similar situation, our unconscious mind is vigilant for anything odd or unexpected. In many events in the past, I realised I was constantly reading myself, checking for emotional or physical reactions, such as uneasiness or increase of heart rate, simultaneously signalling me to “….. watch out Dib, you may be getting into trouble!”
Sometimes even when not in any emergency mode, our internal radar is on alert for patterns that signals threat to ourselves, or those we love. Those days I used to eavesdrop my grandma telling my aunts – “Women, wives and mumsies are amongst those gifted by Allah who are sensitive to the language of gut communication“.
I once knew someone (an indian friend) who has a gift for reading faces. This ability, which some of us have to some degree, stems from spotting “microexpressions”. These very intense bursts of emotion said my friend, only lasts a quarter of a second, but signal a person’s true feelings, even if he is trying to hide them. “If you distrust someone, you will actually notice a microexpression of smugness at being fooled, or his fear of being caught in a lie.”
While microexpressions and pattern recognition dont explain every hunch – some really do seem uncanny, thus giving me reasons to trust my intuitions.
My cousin sister Dr Mariah once said, “Sometimes I tell myself that if I ever get a feeling that something is wrong with a patient, I should listen, because it just might save a life.”