‘Do blind people have a sixth sense’ is the million dollar question which is to serve as the central subject for this post. The problem however here is not the original enigma, but the far-fetched speculations and self-proclaimed assumptions that the sighted community tends to declare so confidently with reference to the sixth sense.
- “Blind people have extraordinarily sharp senses of hearing, smell and touch, and thus if you are blind, your hearing is supernaturally activated to perceive infrasonic and ultrasonic sounds, you can smell people apart, and you automatically become a proficient Braille script reader.”
- “Since your eyesight has been taken, you have been inherently gifted with Einstein-like brainpower (Note: Albert Einstein was all ‘normal’ and ‘sighted’), and to compensate for your one confiscated sense organ, your remaining four senses acquire innate perfection.”
- “Blind people are superhumanly talented and paranormally skilful, and the mystic secret behind their ability to do basic things without sight is their sixth sense and sixth sense alone.’
The above three, I am certain, are those misconceptions and myths you are led to believe due to the terribly inaccurate portrayal and misrepresentation of visual impairment in our film industries, media, and popular culture. I blew them out of proportion myself, but one gets the point…
All frivolities apart, do the blind really have a sixth sense? Do I have a sixth sense? Simply put, the answer is a blatant NO!
In actuality, blindness is not as complex a phenomenon as the society has made it to be. The sole difference between me and my sighted counterpart is that I do not have any eyesight while the said counterpart does. Sounds too simplistic for what it’s worth? If so, to put yourself in my shoes, close your eyes, and there you go – you are now blind! With your eyes closed, try to verify the authenticity of the discussed notion – can you hear, touch or smell anything drastically more than you used to? Unless you are a real superhuman, I bet you cannot.
Being blind is as simple as having your eyes closed forever. It is as simple as having 4 sense organs instead of the usual 5. It is as simple as losing something and thereby making the most of what you still fortunately are left with.
If I have a vision loss, I must make adaptations and deploy alternatives by shifting my focus to functional sensory utilities such as my ears, hands and nose. I have no visual information to intake and process, leaving room for auditory and tactile information to fill the space and bridge the gap. I must be a relatively better listener, I must polish my memory to work things out inside my head instead of on paper, I must improve my directional acumen to be able to spontaneously non-visually orient myself to any given environment, and the list goes on.
Those who are born-blind are more adept at achieving these adaptations, while those who are late-blind surmount these challenges overtime. As a matter of fact, I am a horrendously slow Braille reader, and poor at independent mobility, despite being blind and being supposedly endowed with a heavenly sixth sense!
To sum up, sixth sense is no more than any random poetic phrase, pseudoscience or imagination, with no validity, substance or legitimacy whatsoever. So there you go – your million dollar question is now elucidated.