Competent, capable, different not disabled

Monoprocessing (cont.)

The Self-Other Problem:  Extreme Monoprocessing


There are different levels of monoprocessing.  In the less severe form, e.g. when listening, you can get all the auditory information just none of the other channels. However, some people, even when monoprocessing, will still miss things on the auditory channel. For example, some people cannot hear both the words and the tone of voice at once.


In a very extreme form, there is the “self-other” problem, in which a person cannot access their own thoughts and feelings at the same time as paying attention to an external stimulus (e.g. the visual channel). In that case, the person is alternately in an aloof state (self), in which they can access themselves but not the outside world, and a passive state (other), in which they can take in sensory information but not be able to access their thoughts and feelings. 


Effect of monoprocessing on communication


In real life, with high task processing demands, social cues can be missed if they fall outside the attention tunnel. Hence, social situations can be misunderstood. The cognitive effects of monoprocessing also inhibit simultaneous awareness of the viewpoints of others (Murray, Lesser & Lawson, 2005). Monoprocessing individuals can either focus on an object/experience, or on another person, but not on both (failure in joint attention). This leads to fewer shared experiences and failure to understand meanings of interactions, which hinders social development and causes Theory of Mind problems (Bogdashina, 2003).


Monoprocessing causes delays when important information comes in from several channels simultaneously (which happens in every interaction with another person).


Monoprocessing also affects communication. When someone talks to me, my hearing channel is on, so I hear the words but do not see the facial expressions or body language.  Consequently, I get the literal meaning. However, if a non-literal meaning is meant (conveyed by facial expression/body language), I might miss this. Being aware of this, I once did an experiment to see if I could read the body language of my conversation partner. I had to stop my experiment after about six seconds because my ears had switched off and it would have been rude not to listen.


Since I do not have any visual/contextual clues, it is hard to guess any misheard words.

To contact, e-mail: debi@aspiedebi.com

“Overwhelm makes loss of self likely”.