“I’m always so impressed by your intuition, Sherlock,” Watson remarked as he and Holmes finished their meals.

“I don’t know what you mean by the word ‘Intuition’” the detective replied.

“It is true that sometimes, without conscious activity, I remember an event that might be salient. It springs from my subconscious, as if some coordinated activity is going on there, of which I’m not aware. However, just because it has been delivered into my awareness by my subconscious doesn’t automatically make it relevant or meaningful. I need rational enquiry to confirm its validity. So, just because it has appeared mysteriously in my consciousness doesn’t make it valid on its own.”

“But Sherlock, sometimes these appearing notions come with physical sensations. Surely that proves they are more than random ideas?” questioned Watson.

“Watson, do you recall last autumn when you met that lady from the southern end of 

 Baker  Street?  You told me that you were enamored of her, because during the encounter you felt you’re heart racing and sweat emanating from the pores of your skin.”

Watson nodded, or perhaps he was holding his head in shame.

“Your physical sensations of excitement became the basis of your attraction. Until the following day, when you discovered that you had a case of influenza, and that the symptoms you had interpreted as love were in fact, a nasty bug.”

Intuition is a complex and potentially confusing concept. Arising from the subconscious, a thought or a feeling magically engages our attention. Sometimes, this is an important subconscious dynamic. We can’t consciously access every aspect of our existence and much of it lurks below the surface. There will be times when an idea or a sensation suddenly appears in your head. The issue is what is the meaning of the notion. It could be part of a memory that has been repressed. I once had a client who had been assaulted in a park. Consciously, she could not recall the details but I had been able to do so during a course of hypnotherapy. She told me on one occasion that as she was walking into a restaurant, she saw some tulips outside. She suddenly freaked out, and had the intuition she should avoid the place like the plague. She quickly left the scene. I knew but she didn’t, that tulips were abundant at the site of her assault. Sometimes, intuition is simply our subconscious working faster than our consciousness. For
example, when removing your hand from a hot stove, the muscular movements occur before your conscious awareness of the need to do that action.

We should listen to our intuition and then, in matters of importance, investigate the possible interpretations with critical thinking before deciding whether it is delivering important information or random associations that have no real significance.

by Howard Rankin PhD, psychology and cognitive neuroscience