Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winston Churchill & Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

  • Are you depressed and unable to find a way to conquer it? 
  • Do you also have low muscle tone and hate exercise? 
If so, you may have sensory processing disorder (SPD), a common but little known condition in which you misperceive and misconstrue sensori-motor information and behave out of proportion to the message coming from the environment.
 Low muscle tone and clumsiness is a red flag for SPD. Another red flag is being over or under-responsive to sensation.  If you are over responsive to sensation, you might go ballistic if someone touches your shoulder. If you are under-responsive to sensation, you might not realize you've broken your toe because you have a high pain threshold. 
If you have low muscle tone, you are typically hypo-responsive and need a pow of sensation to get your system charged and going. If you don't get it, you feel lethargic.  For instance, if it's dark and quiet in your bedroom in the morning, you might have a hard time getting out of bed. This combination of low muscle tone and under-responsivity sets you up for depression. It also sets you up for mania because you might become hyperactive to generate enough sensation to get engaged in the world.
Winston Churchill stands as an example of depression, mania and low muscle tone. Fleshy Churchill felt hounded by depression -- his “black dog.”  He hated sports but preferred horseback riding, a powerful means of vestibular and tactile-proprioceptive input, and swimming, which permits easier mobility and provides water pressure to hug the body. Quick tempered and easily bored in school, he was an abominable student and a discipline problem, indicating a problem with emotional modulation. And he showed signs of reckless sensation seeking – mania -- indicating a problem with sensory modulation.  In a well told anecdote, he flew off a bridge and landed in a tree when he was eighteen, to prevent his two cousins – hunters flanked on either side of the bridge – to catch him, the deer.  He woke up with a concussion and ruptured kidney.
For more information on sensory processing disorder and how it creates mental health issues, see my book Uptight & Off Center.

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