Before we can talk about enhancing, improving or augmenting our mental capacities, we first need to first understand what’s normal, what’s the baseline function of our own mental capacity. We seem to intuitively know what is normal for the general population, but are we sure what it means on an individual level?
As it stands, we as a group, can be nicely represented on a simple graph, the Gaussian curve, named after the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. I’m using this graph to represent us from a mental functioning perspective. It turns out to be quite useful to describe not only mathematically but also visually how we are “distributed” in society. Statistically, we see that most of us, as a group, fall somewhere into the distinctive bell shape of this curve (99.74%).
We seem to function relatively well. By this, I propose that our baseline is that we are mostly able to engage in productive activities, adapt to change, cope with challenges, understand the spoken word, act upon our thoughts, engage in future planning and socially interact with others.
In essence, we function in such a way as to live independent lives. This in itself would seem to be sufficient as these abilities lead to having a relatively normal life. However, as you see, in the graph above, there is a significant variation from the middle of the graph to its ends and that it changes rather quickly. The area from the center line to the left-handed side of the graph, gradually represents a diminished baseline mental function (as I define it above) while the area from the center line to the right-handed side of the graph gradually represents an enhanced or optimized mental function.
This is important to consider, as I will argue, you can very directly influence, change and enhance your mental function as it relates to this curve. But before we go into the how’s, we need to first address some fundamental questions when we consider optimizing our mental functioning.
- Why bother?
- What needs to improve?
- What are the gains?
Having the possibility to function at capacities that were not previously realized, that is, above our own baseline normal, is what will be explored.