Read the article:

  1. Introduction
  2. Brain and context
  3. Other theories »
  4. Examples
  5. Chaotic emotions
  6. Left and right
  7. The observing self
  8. Organising idea
  9. References

The REM state

Caetextia and CFS

Latest developments

Contact Us


Follow us:

Follow Human Givens on FacebookFollow Human Givens on TwitterFollow the Human Givens blogConnect with the Human Givens Group on LinkedInFollow the Human Givens Vimeo pageFollow the Human Givens YouTube page


Sign-up to the Human Givens newsletter

Keep up-to-date with the latest Human Givens information, insights and courses.


Other theories

Leading researchers in the field of autism have also linked the word ‘context’ to Asperger’s syndrome. Cognitive psychologist Uta Frith, along with others, has put forward a theory of ‘central coherence’, which suggests that, when carrying out tasks, people with autism show a relative failure to process information for context dependent meaning.5 For instance, it has been found that, if a high-performing person with Asperger’s syndrome is asked to retell a story which they have been told, they are likely to focus intensely on the small details in it — whole sections of whatever they can recall, almost verbatim – but will completely miss the overarching idea, meaning or metaphor. They fail to extract the main idea because they are not sensing context. Frith points out that, if you tell a story to someone who is not on the autistic spectrum and ask him or her to retell it, they can invariably give you the gist: its central meaning.

Another theory to explain Asperger’s syndrome and autism was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen, Uta Frith and their colleague Alan Leslie, while all were working at the Medical Research Council’s Cognitive Development Unit in London in the 1980s. It proposes that people with autism lack ‘theory of mind’: what is missing in autism is the ability to read other people’s minds and, from that, to predict other people’s behaviour.6 As Frith describes it, “Thinking about what others think, rather than what is going on in the physical world outside, is essential for engaging in complex social activity because it underpins our ability to cooperate and to learn from each other. Our research has shown that theory of mind is either absent or severely delayed in autistic individuals and that this can explain their difficulties in social communication.”5

Frith is now looking for a way to relate the theory of central coherence to the theory of theory of mind. We propose that the theory we are putting forward does just that and also provides a much richer view of context than the theory of central coherence. To us, central coherence and theory of mind are limited examples of the deeper principle we are describing, which is the crippling inability to see the world from multiple perspectives and to recognise how sudden change can alter a current situation.

Examples »