So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

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So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

Postby Superfantastisch » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:57 am

So, how did I end up here, posing this question to a crowd of complete strangers?

Well, my journey of self-exploration and enlightenment was borne initially out of extreme career disatisfaction, and the desire to to align myself with the ideal career--one that would be suitable to my complex personality type and in a way would fit like an old comfortable shoe. But upon careful introspection and analysis, it would seem that my struggle began long before I ever started my career. For all I know, it could have started in the womb, where the gene that codes for weirdness flips on and starts pumping out its messenger proteins. So, here I am today, reading a copy of What Do I Do When I Want to do Everything trying to get a handle on it all.

But rather than bore you (or myself) with a detailed autobiography, how about some personal vignettes à la my random and haphazard stream-of-consciousness? If something sounds familiar or rings true to your own personal experience and you have identified yourself as a Scanner, please chime in.

I am scatterbrained. Literally. At any given moment there are several independent or distantly-related thought processes going in my mind. My brain skips from process to process like a needle jumps around randomly on a broken record. I really don't enjoy or embrace this reality. Because of it I cannot concentrate or focus. And because I cannot concentrate or focus, I cannot accumulate or master knowledge in a way which would be beneficial to my academic or vocational success. Also, it doesn't really help in social interactions (more on that later). I have often wondered if I have ADD or ADHD, or some other yet-to-discover disorder denoted by a fancy academic-sounding acronym.

Try having a conversation with me. I would imagine that at best, it's awkward, and at worst, it's trying or irritating. I jump from topic to topic with no apparent rhyme or reason. It's not that I'm purposely throwing out an endless supply of random topics to sabotage communication or to give the impression of intellect by purposely sounding obtuse. But there is no difference between my stream-of-consciousness and my stream-of-verbalization. There are times when I do interrupt people. But I don't so maliciously or because I don't think that their point is valid. It's more because I have this urgency to get a thought out (verbally) before my mind moves on, leaving it in the dust. "I forgot what I was going to say" is the last thing I want to say, because then I feel... stupid. With that said, I do try to be tactful and avoid being abrupt. So, most of the time I wait until the person is finished speaking before I unilaterally change the topic. Fish tacos, anyone?

You've probably seen the typical Hollywood movie scene where it's early in the morning, the clock flicks over to 6:00 AM and the alarm goes off in great cacophony in its attempt to wake the hero or protagonist of the story. The music is blaring, the DJ is yelling above the din of the music at a hundred miles per hour; it's all so terribly loud and obnoxious, you would think that 10 radios must have all flicked on at once, each tuned to a different station. Well, imagine waking up like this in the morning without an alarm clock radio or an alarm clock for that matter. Yes, that is my reality. It's as if someone sticks a syringe into my brain, injects glucose or some other chemical, and all of those aforementioned thought processes come online in full vengeance. Not really a calm and controlled way to wake up, is it?

As a screaming baby is crying to be fed, so is my brain screaming to be fed with information--and feed it I must. I usually head to the office 1 or 2 hours early, make a cup of fresh coffee and enjoy it while surfing the Internet reading the news and other articles or informational nuggets that pique my interest. Sometimes I get to watch the sunrise, and because I am the only one in the office, the experience is pure bliss. Yes, I have to put up with a fussy brain screaming to be fed, but once it gets what it wants everything falls into place. I have to keep up the same routine on the weekends (my brain does not go on holiday, unfortunately), but instead of heading to the office I head to a coffeeshop, and instead of reading news on the Internet, I take along a stack of printouts--stories and articles I want to consume and savor slowly like a rich glass of wine.

Well, no doubt my weekend activity has resulted in the untimely and unnecessary deaths of a lot of trees. The articles and stories I print out and read range a wide variety of topics. Economics, philosophy, science, engineering, entrepreneurism, biology, geology, travel, languages, education, psychology, winter sports, skiing, biathlon, landscape architecture, horticulture, gardening, cooking, travel, history, finance, etc. And some of those topics are further divided up into subtopics. Suffice it to say, I have numerous interests, but when you catagorize them by themes (science, business & economics, travel), perhaps there aren't that many. Though, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that I am a voracious reader. My library card is well-used, and my purchased books are my treasures.

I have often thought that it would be nice if I could live 200 years, so I could go back to college and get 3 or 4 PhDs in fields or topics that truly interest me. When I was in college, I didn't want to major in anything in particular. Rather, I wanted to combine 4 or 5 minors. My reasoning was that a minor subject would have provided me with sufficient knowledge and depth of the subject without overkilling it ot the point where I lost interest. Alas, college doesn't work like that, so I must have ended up changing my major 20 times or so.

I will probably talk about college a lot, because college is precisely the point where my academic life, future career, and happiness as I know it pretty much fell apart. No, I'm not talking about failing my classes or getting expelled and such--I graduated with distinction, in fact. But graduating from college was something I almost did not do.

I went off to college fully planning to study medicine. It wasn't my dream--it was that of my parents. So, I was encouraged, pushed in that direction all throughout middle and secondary school. I went along with their plans just fine--I got the grades, I got admitted to college, I got the academic scholarship, etc. But once I moved away from home and became independent, at some point I realized that I was not pursuing my dream, but theirs. Time to pursue my own dream, so I thought. But when you spend most, if not all of your formative years having decisions made for you, instead of being encouraged to explore decision making on your own, it dawns on you that you've got a lot to learn. I never really knew what my interests were/are, as I never got to explore them. So, like the Rebel without a Cause, I was the Dreamer without a Dream.

I knew that I was intelligent and hard-working, and that I could do anything I applied my mind to, but without a sense of direction, an interest, or a passion, those qualities seemed all but moot. Also, it didn't help that my close friends and classmates knew what they wanted to do with their lives and had a semblance of passion or interest in their chosen fields. In my case, it was more of a black hole. At my college, they had a major called, "Undecided". Oh great, I can major in that, I thought. Unfortunately, it wasn't a major as much as a classification.

Okay, I'm going to stop here for now because I'm starting to bore even myself. I can't even remember why I started this post. Oh yes, to find out whether I'm a Scanner.

How's this? I actually do scan. Remember when I said that I was a voracious reader? Not only do I read items I am interested in or consciously seek out, but I also find myself reading items in my environment that I normally wouldn't be interested in: Cereal boxes, ingredients lists, fine print, signs, notices, etc. For the most part, it's a subconscious process that half the time I am not aware of. I do the same to the enviroment around me as well. I scan people, places, things (yeah, nouns), and patterns, or rather, abnormalities in patterns, stick out like a sore thumb to me. Weird, I know.
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Re: So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

Postby Annalena » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:13 am

My initial thought:

Have you ever read about ADD or low latent inhibition?

I have posted about both. Go ahead and read a little bit about those. Also about being "gifted" and hypersensitive. All these I could connect to you.

You're not alone reading shampoo bottles btw. Did it all my childhood, read EVERYTHING I could get my eyes on. EVERYTHING. Shampoo bottles, instrcution manuals, political newspapers. I stilll skim or "scan" while reading. Only today in the shower I really enjoy a moment of quiet and having nothing to do, so I stopped the reading the bottles ;)
~~ thinking helps. ~~
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Re: So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

Postby Superfantastisch » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:36 pm

I saw the title of your thread, "I don't really fit into this society". That pretty much sums up my own experience in life.

I haven't done too much research on ADD, and I am not familiar with low latent inhibition. I'll have to take a look. Thanks.

When it comes to reading, I don't tend to skim or speed-read through the material. What I meant by "scanning" was that I process my immediate environment taking it all in. If some sort of written text happens to be present, then I end up reading it, regardless of whether it holds my interest or not (usually it does because I am a curious sort).

Okay, I just finished reading up on LLI. I am fairly sure I don't have that. If anything, it would be the opposite condition, if there was one. But nah, I spend a lot of time in my head, not really engaged with the outside world.
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Re: So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

Postby skannie » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:29 pm

Yes, you sound exactly like a scanner. Maybe a plate-spinner, or some other type with a fast turnover of interests. Although I think most of us are a mixture of types. Scanners are often misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but you’ve managed to graduate and hold down a job, and you’ve written this long post very coherently, so I doubt if that’s your problem.

How many browser tabs do you have open when you’re on the internet? I’ve been known to have 150 or more open at once. Firefox used to get upset about that and crash, so I switched to Chrome which handles them all quite calmly.
As a screaming baby is crying to be fed, so is my brain screaming to be fed with information--and feed it I must.
Yes, my brain is like that too, and it must be fed. Except that my brain usually keeps me awake at night and doesn’t like mornings. Sounds great to be able to wake up fully alert in the morning like you do.
It's more because I have this urgency to get a thought out (verbally) before my mind moves on, leaving it in the dust.
Yes I know that feeling. Have you got your Scanner Day Book yet? I think you’d find it very helpful to start writing down all your thoughts and ideas in it so you don’t lose them.
I scan people, places, things (yeah, nouns), and patterns, or rather, abnormalities in patterns, stick out like a sore thumb to me. Weird, I know.
Not weird at all. Sounds like a very valuable talent to me. I often carry a digital camera in my pocket to take photos of all the various fascinating things I notice in my environment. Might be good for you too.

I noticed you mentioned coffee twice. If your brain races naturally, caffeine is going to make it race even more. Maybe you'd be better to cut out all sources of it.
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Re: So, Am I a Scanner? (I Really Don't Know)

Postby krys10ann » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:56 pm

I get the racing, disconnected thoughts as well. I start to get anxious and overwhelmed by them sometimes. What has helped me is to open a blank Word document and start typing away ... write down everything going through your head. Don't worry about keeping it organized or "pretty" in any way; just let it flow! Sometimes I do this with pen and paper as well, but I am faster at typing, so it allows me to keep up with my rapid thinking more easily. If you like, once you've run out of steam, you can organize what you've written. I started saving mine, and it was interesting to see that I would often write about the same things over and over. After a while, I could catch my brain rambling on about something--again--and I was able to stop myself, knowing I had already gone over this before and could now move on. Good luck!
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