Manifestations of the Intuitive Function

Implicit Memory

The intuitive spectrum begins with subtle precognitive knowledge, which manifests in activities like athletics or playing an instrument. These tasks include moments where individuals are not thinking about what they must do but simply executing through a mindless flow. This intuitive state of mind correlates to the recovery process as the individual begins to feel less agitated and more trusting in their abilities to engage in life’s mundane activities (White, 2007).

Seamless collaboration is apparent in activities that draw on implicit memory, such as procedural or associative memory (Mayer, 2007, p. 218). Procedural memory is used for tasks like riding a bike or driving a car. Associative memory unconsciously recalls the names of things, people, and places. Mayer (2007) wrote about Drew Weston’s (1999) research in this area:

These networks extend way beyond the realm of ideas. They include sense perceptions, emotions, motivations, attitudes, and values as well. “Procedural memory, like much of implicit memory, is often much faster than conscious retrieval, which is why people can play several measures of music far faster than they can explicitly interpret them.” (Weston, 1999, as cited in Mayer, 2007, p. 218)

Research in the area of intuition as a component of implicit memory, and a type of cognitive processing used for activities conducted through reflexive action and perception, is avidly being conducted among neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists (Cleeremans, 1997; Hicks, Cicero, Trent, Burton, & King, 2010; Hodgkinson, Langan-Fox, & Sadler-Smith, 2008; Lieberman, 2000; Volz & Von Cramon, 2006). “Intuitive knowledge may be the end product of implicit learning experience which is stored below the level conscious awareness” (Hodgkinson et al., 2008, p. 3). In the same area on the spectrum of the intuitive function, Csikszentmihalyi (1990) wrote about the concept of flow, “When the information that keeps coming into awareness is congruent with goals, psychic energy flows effortlessly. . . . There is no disorder to straighten out, no threat for the self to defend against” (p. 39-40). When this internal state becomes familiar and well practiced, Csikszentmihalyi theorized individuals become more confident, and stable because “psychic energy” has been directed toward goals and tasks (p. 40).

Even though implicit knowing centers on brain activity, there is difficulty in replicating experimental results harkening to Mayer’s (2007) earlier remarks about replication. Even basic types of intuition, like implicit knowing, are sensitive to environment and easily inhibited (Luke, 2011; Mayer, 2007). Cognitive researcher Lieberman (2000) wrote:

They [intuitions] are fast and take into account nonconsciously generated information, gathered from experience, about the probabilistic structure of the cues and variables relevant to one’s judgments, decisions, and behavior. . . . The lack of conscious awareness of the information contributing to one’s intuitive judgment makes it impossible to delineate in reflection, or for others in discourse, the justification for one’s judgment. (p.110)

While these states can be researched from a phenomenological perspective, experimentally recreating them is a far more sensitive process.

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Cary Dakin PhD, MFT

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