What is intuitive thinking

The 4 types of intuitive thinking

Last update: 29th August, 2018

Intuitive thinking remains a mystery to science. Nonetheless, we've managed to move forward and better understand this expression of the brain, which is fascinating and unpredictable at the same time. You could say that intuition is halfway between emotion and reason. This is exactly why it is so mysterious.

Intuitive thinking is what enables us to interpret reality directly, without the need for logic or analysis. It also does not use verbal language, but is based solely on signs and sensations. Often it even contradicts what we would call "reasonable".

According to science, intuitive thinking resides in an area of ​​the brain near the pineal gland. Intuition cannot be controlled, but appears as a kind of “inspiration”. It works in practice - we've all experienced that. It is what doctors also call the "clinical eye," and what is described in other fields as a quality of visionaries.

"Intuition is not an opinion, it is the thing itself."

Arthur Schopenhauer

Intuitive thinking and science

Because it is difficult to understand, intuitive thinking has always led to numerous speculations. Since it is very closely related to the emotions, it is not so easy to check and verify. Sometimes a person simply suggests something to himself and so what happens to him is exactly what he decided “intuitively”.

However, science has taken on the question and has already made some progress. As part of the program Brain Evolution and Behavior (in German: Evolution and behavior of the brain) of the United States National Institute of Mental Health, headed by Paul MacLean, investigated this issue.

According to his research intuitive thinking has its origins in the neocortex. This section of the brain is responsible for integrating information from both hemispheres. Although the mechanisms that make this possible are not yet fully known, it is estimated that it is an instant processing of knowledge, experience and sensory stimuli that lead to a correct answer to reality.

The four types of intuitive thinking

One has always spoken of intuition as a kind of “spark” that emerges and illuminates everything. Albert Einstein claimed that his studies included a high component of intuition. Nevertheless, it is mostly artists who use this interesting function most intensively.

It was found that there are four different types of intuitive thinking. These are:

  • Emotional intuitive thinking. This corresponds to the ability to immediately identify the main personality traits of others or the emotional state they are in. One can, so to speak, perceive who the other is or how he is doing without spoken words.
  • Mental intuitive thinking. This has to do with finding the answer to a problem immediately without having to analyze it first. It is very common with people who have jobs that require very quick decisions, such as fire fighters or explosives experts.
  • Psychic intuitive thinking. This refers to the ability to choose the best way to overcome or evade a difficulty without needing further data. It is also about interpreting social or work-related atmospheres.
  • Spiritual intuitive thinking. It corresponds to these states of "enlightenment" or "revelations". These are arguably more of an experience than a fact. The Buddhists are the ones who relate the most to this form of intuition, the one that is almost mystical in character.

Can we develop intuition?

In our western culture, it is very difficult to hear this inner voice of intuition. We are permeated with rationalismwhich makes it much more difficult for us to appreciate something that cannot be explained by our logic or has any kind of empirical support. We defend ourselves against everything that is not clearly to be understood as reasonable. This is why it is sometimes so difficult to listen to our intuition.

In the same way the lack of confidence in ourselves leads to the fact that we block intuitive thinking. When we doubt many of our subjective experiences, any intuition is immediately contaminated by that doubt. Instead of leading us to a certainty or intuition, it only creates confusion and concern.

The best way to develop our intuition is therefore to let us flow. A good strategy is, the first thing that comes to mind before we process that thought with our reason. To take in everything as we perceive it, like in a writing exercise.

After that, we can check our impressions and evaluate whether our original interpretation of the same is valid. If there were sensible elements in it that are effectively aimed at properly understanding a situation or solving a problem, then one can speak of intuition. This simple exercise sometimes brings surprising insights.

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