Scatomas Limit Everyone's Ability to See
And Make Needed Change
In Their Lives and in Their Businesses
A scatoma is a “blind spot,” literally a place in our field of vision each of us is unable to see. Spots on our retinas cause scatomas, and in some, these can grow and affect vision dangerously.
Other kinds of scatomas affect how we perceive because of how we have learned and what we have experienced. Just as literal blind spots can be dangerous, our perceptive blind spots can be dangerous to our ability to change and grow, as human beings and as organizations.
We each need to believe we see the world around us accurately. At its most basic, the primary function of the human brain is to find patterns that allow us to create order from sensual input. In childhood, our brains learn to sort out the stimuli we don’t need and reinforce the stimuli that help us survive, thrive, and importantly, remain sane.
The brain accomplishes much of this process by generalization. A few experiences create the pattern the brain expects from similar situations in the future. These patterns become our personal paradigm, our way of understanding the world around us, and we become vested in these patterns. Bias is the word for our natural desire to hold on to our own paradigm, and reject all other alternatives. Biases are good and necessary in that they keep us sane, but biases that keep us from growing, from being able to change, or from seeing the world clearly, are terribly limiting, even dangerous.
As an example of how firmly implanted in our brains biases can become, consider this picture called the Checker Pattern Illusion. The amazing thing about this picture is that the squares labeled A and B are identical! You can test this with Adobe Photoshop if you must (I did). Bias in the way our brains learned to perceive patterns literally won’t let us see that A and B are the same.
Denial is the most common defense mechanism we use when we encounter anything which conflicts with our paradigm. It takes courage and effort to break through blind spots to make personal or business changes. Unfortunately, simply wanting to be able to see things differently may not be enough. Finding a new way of seeing things can require seeking out and studying a point of view from others.