PAPERBACK BOOKS
NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE

Notice the Difference is a timely warning about allowing the information and communication revolution to hinder the meaningful connection between people, and between people and ideas.
The book aims to raise awareness of the risk to psychological health and relationships if we don’t develop thinking tools that help differentiate between individual people, situations and ideas.
Reading Notice the Difference will address biases in thinking that are detrimental to psychological health and relationships. It will help readers understand and value their individuality, and that of others, and in doing so, foster healthier inter-personal bonds. It will assist readers to make sense of conflicting information, opinions and ideas in forming opinions and making personal choices.
Notice the Difference
will help prevent the stifling of individual freedom and creativity that happens when we only value similarities and conformity. It will encourage the reclaiming of personal responsibility in choices and behaviour. Noticing and valuing differences has the potential to make society a more welcoming place for all its members, with lower rates of anxiety and depression, bullying and intolerance.

 

In Store Price: $AU22.95 
Online Price:   $AU21.95

ISBN: 978-1-921406-18-8
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 150
Genre: Non Fiction/Self Help
 

 


Author: Dr. Kerry Jones
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2008
Language: English

About the author  

Kerry Jones has been practising as a Neuro-psychologist since obtaining her clinical training at La Trobe University in 1994.  

She has worked with patients undergoing rehabilitation for brain injury, in the alcohol and drug field, in psychiatry and in aged care.  

She has had a longstanding interest in the interaction between cognition and psychological adjustment across the lifespan.  

Since obtaining her doctoral degree in the field of human attention, she has worked in the forensic area.  

Alongside this work she has embarked upon the precious journey of motherhood whilst putting pen to paper at every spare moment.

Introduction  

That which bonds people to one another and connects them to the world of ideas surrounding them reflects and shapes their identity as human beings. The bonds and connections formed underlie emotional wellbeing and give meaning to the ideas and experiences with which people interact. Alongside globalization and technological advances, the human psyche is being bombarded with an abundance of information and interaction. Unless the necessary thinking tools to keep information anchored to personal realities are developed, information and relationships can easily lose meaning. Without re-thinking the ways to connect to one another and to information, quality information and interaction will be replaced with quantity. Meaningful connectivity runs the risk of being replaced by the meaningless bouncing around of ideas and conversation both within and between individuals, and this has the potential to erode people’s sense of self and psychological health. To preserve that which is valued about humanity – connections to one another – amidst the onslaught of the information revolution, time and effort is necessary to understand how bonds between people and information are formed and how their meaning and resilience can be improved. The most useful starting point in doing so is to understand how the brain connects ideas, information and experience. 

The links formed by the brain between chunks of information, unique experiences and new ideas is central to connections with the outside world and to each other. The software in the brain that links, stores and retrieves experiences and knowledge has a bias towards the familiar. As people listen to conversations, absorb ideas, or face new challenges, all the information entering the senses reminds them of other similar encounters. Any situation currently faced brings to mind emotions, ideas and possible responses from past experiences that have something in common with the present. There is a bias towards noticing and talking about similarities that gives comfort. In conversation, similar stories are relayed and when advice is passed on, it is done so based on similarities between problematic situations. When people link and share information with one another based on similarities and familiarity, it occurs so quickly and automatically that there is rarely awareness of the process. It is a useful and adaptive way of using past experience and knowledge to meet new challenges.  

Problems arise though when too many similar experiences are brought to mind or into conversation by others. This triggering of familiar information gains such momentum that what makes each situation and person unique is overlooked. When information about differences between each person and situation is lost, ideas and experiences lose relevance to individuals and are difficult to apply meaningfully. With too much information and haste, solutions to one problem are applied to another before time is spent fine tuning them to suit the uniqueness of the situation. When differences are not noticed, the likelihood of miscommunication, misinterpretation and misapplication of ideas is increased, and meaning is easily lost. Something else happens when differences are neglected in human interaction. When only sharing similar opinions, ideas and experiences in conversation, bonding occurs with one another based on these similarities alone. The brain is storing information about feelings, thought patterns, opinions and experiences shared in conversation, and it is the storing of this information that, in a sense, forms neural bonds between people. Bonds built only on similarities are less resilient to the effects of time and change, however, and are challenged when differences do eventually surface. When interaction includes sharing both similar and different opinions and experiences from the outset, the bonding information stored by the brain includes a richer profile of fellow humans with all their differences, with whom comfort and companionship is still enjoyed. Bonds that can accommodate differences from the outset are less fragile in the face of change and when differences do arise, they produce less conflict.  

Difference noticing is a thinking skill that can be acquired in psychological therapy, incorporated into everyday conversation and interaction, and nurtured in future generations through parenting and education. Valuing differences amongst people – and valuing individualism – is a choice that can be made to help anchor information and interaction to personal realities and foster greater acceptance of the full range of human nuance. A sense of self as separate to others as well as separate to ideas and information people connect with, can help with decisions about where ideas and experience do and do not apply. It can help people value uniqueness and difference in themselves and their fellow human beings. With clearly defined boundaries between information and between the self and others, people can be more open to the different perspectives and experiences of others, and contribute to a more welcoming society. 

By the conclusion of Notice the Difference, it is hoped that two central messages will have been conveyed: firstly, differences are at least as important as similarities, and secondly, that by valuing individual selves, the bonds developed and shared will be stronger. The following chapters will present a model of how the brain connects to ideas and experiences and a way of improving difference noticing in psychological therapy. The benefits of building difference noticing into everyday interaction, and into the education and rearing of children will be discussed and some practical ways of doing so will be presented. The importance of keeping information and interaction focused on unique personal realities will be emphasised, and it will be argued that only by choosing to value individualism, can greater and more meaningful connection to one another, and to ideas, be achieved.
 

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