This post is part of Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. Click here for a list of all of the blog posts that present the theory.
The second most important innovation in modern mind mapping was the development of a flexible computer program that would permit a visual thinker to create models and theory and reminders and notes and all manner of visual thinking aids simple and complex.
Often categorized as a “mind mapping” program for Buzan’s guidelines for mind mapping, iMindMap has evolved into a full visual thinking environment that permits dozens of types of visual elements to be created, and on the same canvas if desired. Instead of limiting itself to its Buzan roots, iMindMap permits users to create all manner of mind maps whether fully Buzan-compliant, partially Buzan-compliant, or any other format required. It is easy to use and oh so interactive. Because of its great interactivity it permits users to create Mind Mapping 4.0 very modern information maps and displays that transcend earlier guidelines.
The most important characteristic of the program is that it encourages users to customize mind maps endlessly and experiment with different ways of presenting the same information. It produces visual thinking output that can be very easily changes as the user wishes to use new information, a broader or narrower scope, and customization for different groups. Can you say F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y boys and girls. Now, how about C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y?
Without the presence of the iMindMap program my own theory could not have been developed which I view as the most important innovation in modern mind mapping. iMindMap permitted that most important of activities in model building, namely experimenting with different alternate models (formats).
You should use this computer program if you want to join me in studying mind map theory by mind mapping in many variations. That’s what I do.
A mind map showing why iMindMap is a terrific, super-duper, fantastic tool for model and theory building and refinement. Click to expand.
iMindMap was developed by Chris Griffiths and his team at OpenGenius. Each annual revision of the program is a work of genius.
One has to experiment as one builds models, theory, and even a simple mind mapped grocery list. This is the tool that lets you do so with ease.
This is an extremely important research article supporting processes that are presumably engaged in mind mapping and sketchnoting.
The study is too small to be accepted as “proving” or “strongly supporting” the “drawing effect,” but should it be replicated in a much larger sample, it would strongly suggest the efficacy of mind mapping, sketchnoting, and other visual thinking methods for memory recall.
This post is part of Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. To see an index and links for the other posts, click here.
In the 1970 and 80s, Tony Buzan presented some guidelines the mind mapping technique he was explaining and popularizing at the time. Over the years, Buzan’s guidelines have changed very little although the fields of cognitive neuroscience, medicine, brain imaging, and mathematical modeling (of the brain) have changed dramatically. My own guidelines being presented in this series of posts are in many cases either extensions or corrections of Buzan’s work from decades ago.
The following mind map shows some of the reasons that we must NOT consider guidelines for mind mapping set in stone or frozen and periodically re-evaluate them. Click the map to expand it.
I am writing these blog posts having been diagnosed in 2010 with neurodegenerative disease. And dementia.
Click here for an index and links to the posts about Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping.
When I write one of the posts, I really do not have too much — if any — memory of what I have written in my prior posts, perhaps as recently as a few minutes ago.
Sometimes I go back and glance through several earlier posts based on their titles in my index. A lot of the logic of the post and the mind maps comes back almost immediately by looking at the mind map in the posts.
Yup, there is a modest amount of redundancy among the posts and probably some inconsistency. I don’t worry about it. Hopefully you will not either. After all, my memory and lots of parts of my brain are pretty messed up.
Here is the take home message. Whether you agree with what I conclude in any of these blog posts, I think that you have to concede that I am using a series of mind maps to weave a pretty integrated story and set of arguments. I am doing so with diagnoses considered by many to mean that I have already had “functional brain death” and which many say they most fear.
If you have neurodegenerative disease or care for someone who does, you may want to look into mind mapping to help maintain quality of life for as long as possible.
If you do not have neurodegenerative disease and are sure you will never have it, you may not want to do anything. But if you think that someday there is a teeny-tiny chance you will get neurodegenerative disease, maybe you should look into these techniques while you can still learn them while “brain healthy.” Even if you never get neurodegenerative disease you will find that all of the methods I discuss can improve thinking for someone with a perfectly typical and “healthy brain.”
Can you believe that I am sitting here writing this with brain disease that often sidelines me when I am not sitting in front of a mind map or blogging program?
That is the take home message from my work. Please remember and make use of it.
This blog post is part of a series that collectively presents Huba’s Integrative Theory of Mind Mapping. An index and links to other posts may be accessed by clicking here.
Tony Buzan’s work 30 years ago helped establish the method of mind mapping as an important one for visual thinking. He organized and synthesized methods used by high achievement thinkers over the centuries and his own classrooms while he was teaching and observed them.
In the 21st Century, mind mapping is turning increasingly (and correctly) to a focus on content issues in medicine, health care, education, human rights, and the broad dissemination of mind mapping techniques to peoples of all education, wealth, and geographical groups.
The following mind map shows the 21st Century issues of mind mapping within the original 20th Century achievements of Buzan and his colleagues. Click on the image to expand it.
This is one of a series of posts on Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. To access a complete index with links to individual posts click here.
What makes a mind map effective? A few thoughts in the following mind map. Click on the image to expand it.
Tailoring the mind map style to the content of the map, audiences, and related factors makes the mind map maximally effective. Sadly, I seem to be the only one writing about the use of tailoring of maps to users, content, and applications. It is my belief that such tailoring is the most important way to make a mind map meaningful and effective.
There is no such thing as a mind map style which is “the best” for all applications in spite of various pronouncements over the past 40 years that you must curve branches or center the map on the page and use a radial structure and have one word per branch if you want to have a “real” mind map with an optimally useful mind map. What is best is what works best for what YOU are trying to do with the map. There is no one universal formula for the best mind map in all circumstances. You should use your experience mind mapping and content knowledge to customize the style for maximum effect.
If you do not feel comfortable customizing a style, you can use Buzan’s Guidelines and achieve a good result. Following Buzan’s Guidelines almost always produces a good or very good mind map and should be your default as a starting point. Customizing can improve the map at the expense of requiring experience and some additional time. As you mind map more, you will find that you develop a fairly advanced and useful knowledge of mine map style in different applications of the technique.
After I develop my first draft of a mind map — either in a standard default style for iMindMap or a standard custom style I have developed for my own use — I systematically try changing color schemes, fonts, branch placements, images, shapes, branch formatting, and other elements of the map to see which combination seems to best fit the intended audience and the information I am using. This is NOT an aesthetic judgment; while pretty is often very good, the prettiest map may not be the most effective map if the map violates assumptions that patients or doctors or scientists or engineers or students about how information is presented, which concepts are usually discussed, and systems of color coding that are well established (and usually invariant) in various professions. For instance, red, green, and yellow are virtually universally used to mean stop, go. and caution. Hot is usually coded with red and cold with blue.
Some judgment is required to optimize mind maps. Experimentation with alternate styles and pilot testing with yourself and several others can help determine which of several alternate map files may be most effective and help you to evolve a very effective style.
This is post is part of a series of HITMM 2016 posts. For a full list of all of the posts in the series, click here.
Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping is a significant enhancement to Buzan’s Guidelines in many ways. The three largest differences are as follows.
HITMM places a heavy emphasis on tailoring the map for those using it, those developing it, the content area under consideration, and many other factors related to these large themes.
HITMM realizes that maps need not be radial. Mind maps that run from left-to-right (for left-to-right languages) may have many benefits besides the obvious one of readability by groups not familiar with mind maps.
HITMM promotes mapping with one CONCEPT per branch. The use of concepts (often described by multiple words) greatly facilitates visual thinking over the method of Buzan.
HITMM revises and expands Buzan’s Guidelines in a number of additional evolutionary ways to include current neuroscience findings and mapping technologies.
The mind map below shows major issues in HITMM mind maps in relationship to Buzan Style ones. Click the image to expand it.
For an index of all posts about HITMM 2016, click here.
There are many areas in which Huba and Buzan strongly agree, especially in the coding of branches and ideas within the mind map so as to highlight the importance of the information. The next figure shows major convergences in the suggestions.
Huba’s Integrative Theory of Mind Modeling (Mind Mapping) is comprised of a number of posts in this blog.
The theory specifies styles (parameters) for developing the best types of mind maps (and successor mind models™) for real applications including cognitive decline, dementia, medical practices, healthcare offices, clients, patients, folks in general, physicians, nurses, other healthcare providers, family of patients, family of clients, social work and other social care professions, treatment facilities, medicine, science, experimentation, reporting, and most other applied uses.
The term MindModel™ is a new one coined by G J Huba PhD to describe the highly advanced form of mind mapping developed through the integrated theory. The MindModel is an evolution of the Buzan-style Organic MindMap into a much more useful thinking tool.
The term MindModel is first introduced in Blog Post 20 in this series to represent all of the enhancements of traditional mind maps discussed in Posts 0-19.
New posts will be added frequently. This Index will be updated as new items are added. The posts may be accessed by clicking the links below.
Tony Buzan’s most controversial rule for mind mapping is to use one word per branch. People ignore it, hate it, complain about it, call such maps words I do not care to repeat here, love it, create with it, blame it, and look at other alternatives.
I find Buzan’s branches with short labels of one word to work pretty well to generate pretty pictures, and to work extremely well in mind maps being used to facilitate brainstorming. You can use this rather blind rule and obtain mind maps that work fairly well. But not as well as they could especially if you factor in the observations of many that most people find it far more confusing to read branches labelled with Buzan’s rigid format.
In the beginning of my theoretical work a couple of years ago, I thought that Buzan’s rule was the best one for labelling branches and channeling the thought process. Over the ensuing years I have come to realize that Buzan’s rule and its resultant maps are too restrictive, promote verbal rather than visual thinking, and become “stringy” especially with curved branches that most people will not understand as well as a mind map labelled with concepts (constructs, summary ideas), many of which require several words to disambiguate.
In the general case, the rule of one word per branch (OWPB) does not work very well in most applied knowledge applications. Medical diagnoses are named with more than one word explaining how they categorized or caused, Oscar-nominated films are named with labels indicating their content and setting and historical period, and complex naming rules apply to great baseball shortstops, serial killers, books, stressors, rewards, people on the street, and great vacation resorts.
If you use the Buzan rules, you are basically focusing on words as you try to find places to put single words to collectively describe some complicated idea. Buzan’s rule reinforces the idea of word dominance rather than picture-visual dominance! If you put one concept on each branch (with several words needed to describe many concepts), you are focusing more on the underlying concept (a visual datum) and not a specific word.
Huba’s rule of one concept per branch supports true visual thinking about concepts that can be pictured. It promotes integration and understanding and theory. Diagrams are better labelled with a full concept than labelled with several successive branches of individual words as Buzan would have us do.
Huba’s OCPB rule promotes full visual thinking; Buzan’s OWPB rule promotes an encyclopedic knowledge of individual words at the loss of the visually complex object. Huba’s OCPB rule promotes full visual thinking. Buzan’s OWPB rule promotes a fracturing of basic concepts into a form that does not portray the full richness of ideas and their visual nature.
Here are some more thoughts in the form of a mind map. Click on the image to expand it.
Why does Buzan’s theory fall apart at the idea of one word per branch rather the more correct and useful representation of one concept per branch. I believe it is because Buzan’s original rules of mind mapping from the 1970s and 1980s are based upon a digital model of the brain’s data processing functions (a set of “on/off” switches or those little pixels in your computer monitor that turn off and on to represent a picture in full color) that was commonly misused from the 1950s through the 1980s, and still is even today. The brain and its workings are analog. Lots of information “clumps” together rather than being a bunch of on/off switches in various locations. Analog devices use “degrees of on” to convey information as contrasted to a discrete one/off, yes/no digital device. Also, information is blended from many different sources and brain locations to construct the information as a concept or idea or map within the brain. More precisely, the brain is a stochastic device that mixes multiple neurons firings (primarily digital inputs or sources of information into a more analog continuous form) in part by accounting for a random component of erroneous information added due to a number of conditions (including brain disease effects). Or you can call it an analog device that makes probabilistic predictions. Or you can just say that it is much more complicated than the assumptions underlying Buzan’s one word per branch rule.
In order to maximize the usefulness of mind mapping and to promote greater use for such important issues as dealing with dementia and other medical conditions, personal and professional planning, decision making, communication of visual ideas big and small, learning, theorizing, remembering, and many more, we need to maximize the usefulness of the visual thinking model underlying mind mapping and move to the concept (construct, image based) system of constructing mind maps.
The decision about how to label the ideas in a mind map (whether by labelling them with single words as Buzan requires as opposed to single ideas I call constructs or concepts) is the most important one that is made in mind mapping.
Starting April 18, 2016, I am uploading a series of posts collectively comprising Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping or HITMM. These are being marked with the year of publication 2016 and a number in parentheses indicating the order of the post in the series.
Note that this series of posts is an overall theory of the best practices for mind mapping in real applied fields (that is, just about everything but the itsy, bitsy teeny, weeny, fairly trivial examples used in mind mapping books and courses).
My goal has been to develop a series of guidelines that are practical for patients, caregivers, clients, general folks, professionals, healthcare providers, scientists, organizations, and yes, even butchers, bakers and possibly even attorneys.
Watch for the first five or six posts this week. I am anticipating about a dozen or more posts on this topic.
It’s taken me a year to develop these guidelines and justifications and about 1000 mind maps written for actual applications, not toy maps like those used by others. I have also tested a lot of my ideas with various readers of my blog including people with cognitive impairment and dementia, students, health care providers, the general public, caregivers, doctors, lawyers, family members of medical patients and those with mental illness, and many other types of people among the more than 110,000 people who get direct notices of my blog posts via Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Facebook.
I believe that this is the first set of mind mapping guidelines which has ever received so much comment through the wizardry and participation opportunities in social media and world-wide opportunities to study it on a web site of 600 blog posts.
Oh, and in case you wonder, I am not a relative of P. T. Barnum. Rather, I have worked 35 years as a research psychologist-program evaluator-psychometrician, received honors from the two major psychological associations in the USA, visited more 500 clinics serving most types of behavioral and medical diseases and disorders and studied their operations, and have lived well for a number of years with dementia and used these techniques myself. I also worked for a few years on the development of several major neuropsychological diagnostic tests and know how to read peer-reviewed papers in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical neurology. And I am not going to promote outdated (often fictional) ideas attributed to psychology and neuroscience and neurology such as split brains, 90% of the brain’s work being done by 10% of the brain, or digital models of an analog brain typically found in mind mapping books.
The guidelines I am presenting are the best ones I know of to help you develop mind maps that may help you to have a more productive, happier, and maybe healthier life or help you help someone else. I am not claiming that mind maps will change your brain (no definitive research has ever been on that issue which seems quite sad given the amount of money made by those who teach $5,000 courses and have $10,000 per day consulting practices justified by implying that definitive research supports everything they sell). To be specific to my case, I do not claim mind maps can cure or prevent dementia or fix up a damaged brain. But do I think it is easier to navigate the typical or dementia-affect world in a way that is joyful with a higher quality of life than one would otherwise have been able to have without using mind maps, other visual thinking tools, or related tools. What I present are NOT brain training methods of which I am somewhat skeptical, but rather thinking tools (much as traditional arithmetic and mathematics, letter writing and the creation of literature, as well as organizing, filing, using balance and spreadsheets, and drawing charts are commonly used thinking tools).
A lot of kids grow up wanting to be football players or ballerinas or doctors or musicians or lawyers or politicians or POTUS or dog catchers or (heaven forbid) whale trainers at Sea Wiorld. When I was 10 I used to write Huba’s Theory of [Whatever I was Working On at the Time] in my school notes and doodles. I was still doing so in graduate school working on my PhD degree.
Am I trying to sell you something? Not really. All of what I know — in the most accessible way I know how to present it while having dementia — is in the posts on this blog. Yes, I copyright the posts and images so that they will not be taken from here and taken out of the context of the larger work. And yes, I may choose to synthesize the work in books or applications. But the core information is all here, free, and will continue to be so. Please cite the work appropriately if you use or quote it.
You can read all of this for free and comment on it for 100,000+ other people to see in the comments section of every post. Love it, say so and why. Hate it, say so and why. All I ask that you do not hide behind a pseudonym or “anonymous” identity. The only comments I do not approve for the site are those that contain blatant advertising, attacks on individuals other than me, spam detected by automatic processors, malware and viruses, bigotry, and possibly offensive statements that go far beyond the usual four, five, and six letter words I use to make emphatic points.
I cannot and will not give individual psychological, health, or medical advice and nothing in this blog should be interpreted as such. Except in very rare cases, I cannot help you develop or debug any of your own work. That’s just the way it has to be in my universe of trying to get as much done as possible while undergoing cognitive decline. I’m happy with the way I am approaching all of this.
George Huba, PhD
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
[My comments below pertain to left-to-right written languages. For right-to-left languages can you just assume you can translate my words into right-to-left? I suspect so, but only native speakers, readers, and writers of right-to-left languages will be able to answer that. I encourage their thoughts and comments.]
Buzan’s rules or guidelines (or “laws” of mind mapping) require a central element from which other ideas flow in a hierarchical way with the most important parts of ideas represented near the center. That is, there is a central idea often represented by a picture (Buzan says always this will be the case but his iMindMap program has the majority of suggested central elements as outline images in which words are written so apparently this is not a rigid requirement) and a hierarchy of sub-branches emerging from branches emerging from the central idea.This rule has two major problems.First, often the format makes for overly compressed branches and sub-branches and a lack of “white space.”Second and most important, the left side of the diagram (that is to the left of the central image — where one effectively has to write and read in a right-to-left manner the opposite of the way one normally writes and reads — makes it quite difficult for many people to write or read when the map is complete. Many try to read the left side of the diagram from left-to-right and end up with ideas that look like Yoda wrote them down. “This isn’t good” although some would think it is cool to say “Good isn’t this” with the implied acumen of Yoda.Here is a typical radial mind map with the major idea in the center and secondary and tertiary ideas radiating out from the center.The example is from a recent blog post on some advantages that mind mapping might make for persons with dementia (PWDs) or those with cognitive impairment. I wrote this in the traditional Buzan radiant style. The prior post gives a rationale for, and explanations of, the mind map.
What happens when the radial mind map is oriented left-to-right. Here is a first sample of the re-orientation. Is this this the way you normally think when you read (left-to-right)? Most importantly, when you take into account that physicians and other healthcare providers are used to working in a left-to-right world, the left-to-right structure is more compelling when one READS a mind map.
Here is a second variation on the left-to-right concept. Some may find this easier to unambiguously read.
Buzan argues that all mind maps should have curved branches because those are more “interesting” to the easily bored brain. I don’t agree with Buzan on this matter because a linear format with straight branches seems to be more UNDERSTANDABLE to me for those who primarily read mind maps others have created. Here is the same mind map with a left-to-right format and straight branches.For the purposes of reading or filling out a standardized template, the left-to-right linear map may be clearer to the cognitive challenged or to those who handle large amounts of conceptual data daily and cannot afford to make errors (healthcare providers).
How do I reconcile the differences and strengths among these four formats.
I believe that it is easier to WRITE or BRAINSTORM or CREATE in the radiant format. The radiant design has the advantage of clearly indicating the most important parts of the idea or information. Important information appears in the center and branches and sub-branches gradually emerge.
But for reading or processing formation from one person to another or filling a pre-designed form, the left-to-right linear format may be the best or at least the easiest format for people to quickly and accurately transmit information. And the linear left-to-right format is a natural for healthcare where information is transmitted hundreds of times through both individual hands and scanned documents that may also be computer interpreted or reformatted for databases. And the left-to-right format with linear branches is probably the easiest to understand by a person with cognitive impairment or unfamiliarity with the radial format of rigidly Buzan-style maps.
If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I have thousands of mind maps lying around that were created with a traditional radial format. How long does it take me to convert a radial mind map into a left-to-right oriented one? TEN MINUTES in the program iMindMap created by Chris Griffiths in tandem with Tony Buzan. Conversion is a semi-automated process that requires some judgment about the final arrangement of the branches. But if a person who WRITES or CREATES the radial mind map and then converts it to a left-to-right format to COMMUNICATE to patients and doctors and nurses and more doctors and then the patient again, that little extra knowledge about mind map USERS is readily available.
To summarize, I find it easiest to create (write) new content in the radial format but strongly suspect that most users will find it easier to read that content in one of the left-to-right formats.
But, remember that I am working in the field of healthcare. And, I believe that mind mapping can help me live better with several medical conditions I have.
My solution will be to present two alternately formatted mind maps on this blog and in explanatory articles and manuals.That is, for many I will include both a radial mind map for further brainstorming and editing and rewriting and a left-to-right linear or almost-linear map for readers and others who find the traditional reading orientation best.Some readers will find the radial format most valuable. Some readers will find the left-to-right format more useful. In general, the choice of radial versus left-to-right is one that rests on the content of the map, the intended audience, the overall system in which the information is being used, and an understanding of the typical cognitive functioning and training of the intended audience.And it does not hurt to present the information in both formats so that everyone is covered and also becomes familiar with both formats.Does current neuroscience prefer one of these formats over the other? I do not find any compelling research (when I find any research at all) that shows radial diagrams are superior to left-to-right ones. Such evidence did not exist in the 1970s and it does not seem to exist now, although research will continue and we will need to adjust our conclusions as more “definitive” findings are produced with better equipment, better research designs, and better data.
If you are a person with dementia, make up a mind map like this every so often and hand it to your caregivers and family. You will increase the chance they will flip on a show or music that you like. They really do want your preferences but if you do not state them, you might end up listening to Nicky Minaj instead of Lady GaGa
If you are a person who does not have dementia, make up a mind map like this every so often and hand it to your kids and partner-spouse and you may get something other than a tie for Fathers Day.
Click on the image to expand it
The following presentation shows the mind map one section at a time. It will run automatically. Or, press the stop button in the presentation and use the arrow keys to manually go through the slides.
Here are a few ways that mind maps can be used by a person with dementia that are extremely useful. I base this mind map on my own personal experience.
Click the mind map to expand it.
The presentation below shows pieces of the large mind map above in sequentially. The presentation will run automatically or you can run it manually by pushing the stop button and then progressing through the presentation using the arrow keys.
My brain starts to calculate all of the usual stuff to determine the date and day of week and month so that all of those things we need to know every day (how warm is it, what kinds of clothes should we wear, is this an important day, does the day-month-season give us clues about what might happen today). These are all calculations most people take for granted as they go about their day and barely think about.
When I make such automatic calculations they take FOREVER and require huge amounts of ENERGY. And then just when you think you have it solved, all of those calculations go away and you have to start over again after you remember how to approach the problem.
My time sense is pretty screwed up. The individual with dementia you are, care for, or know may have a pretty messed up time sense too.
How important are naps. Extremely so. If you can time your day around naps, you can use them to be more alert for social activities or to sleep through side effects like headaches from medications. It is amazing how mentally tired you can get from minutes or an hour or two of concentrating, even on something as “relaxing” as a video. A nap can prepare you for the next activity or eliminate the grouchiness you feel after an intense activity.
First, persons with dementia can have extremely enjoyable days even though they get tired, cranky, forget stuff, and sometimes act weird unless family and friends help.
Second, mind maps are a really good way to document a special day. [Note: My version of the mind map has family pictures and names which I have omitted from this version.] Click the image to expand its size.
Oh, and yes to enjoy the day I had to take a 90 minute nap in the morning after taking my medications which cause a headache of epic proportions every day in order to sleep through the pain.
Oh, and yes to enjoy the evening I had to take a 2 hour nap in the late afternoon as the game was to be broadcast from 9 pm until 11 pm.
The periodic longish naps have a way of leveling out some of the difficult behaviors that are exacerbated by being tired and even more rigid than usual.
Naps help make it possible to have days of living very well and especially well with dementia.
I started this blog in the Fall of 2012. At the time I began, I was looking for something intellectual to do in retirement, wanted to talk about what I had learned over 35 years of evaluating health and social programs, and wanted to present many of my thoughts in mind maps.
And I had a hidden agenda.
In late 2009 I had been diagnosed preliminarily as having a neurodegenerative disease, probably progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) or frontotemporal dementia (FTD); this was formalized in early 2010. In the years since my initial diagnosis, both working original diagnoses have been put in a related category of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with a number of other neurodegenerative diseases.My own dementia exhibits features of several of the FTLD disorders, something reported by both my own neurologist and a number of peer-reviewed publications as a common occurrence.
Over the years,I blogged, I spouted off about inequities and the denial of basic human rights. There was interest and my related Twitter following skyrocketed as I retweeted and commented about health-related issues and introduced the posts appearing on my blog.
I did not disclose that I had neurodegenerative disease and had progressed into dementia. I did not disclose that I had great difficulty writing without the mind maps and other visual thinking methods to support the generation of words. I did not disclose that I had neurodegenerative disorder for two reasons. First, I simply was not ready to disclose this for my own sake and that of my family. Second, as a psychologist, I was curious to see if anything would change when readers realized that I was writing while having the dreaded Big D that most readers equated with total mental disintegration and Alzheimer’s in its very advanced stages.
I kept plugging along at about 20 posts a month and gaining several thousand Twitter followers each month who also receive regular updates about my blog posts.
At the beginning of 2015 I started to write about my neurological problems, diagnosis, and what I felt and how I perceived things. I started to emphasize that my prior writings about mind mapping in a theoretical way designed to illustrate a useful tool were in fact descriptions of how the blog was written and how the methods helped me.
My hypothesis that some professionals who had regularly retweeted my work before the disclosure of dementia would stop doing so after I disclosed my medical status. I understand that as many may be concerned with identifying with my positions. That’s OK, my ideas are no more or less valid than they were in 2014 in the absence of compelling empirical studies. A lot of individuals with dementia and their caregivers as well as healthcare providers have at the same time discovered my work and provided feedback that the information and methods are useful to them.
Had you asked me 2012 what I expected for the blog I would have estimated 100-200 posts in total and that by 2016 I would either be dead or “cognitively dead.” I believe that neither is true and that I have many hundreds of posts left. I am aiming for 1000 before before I stop. Because of the acts of producing the blog, and the support of the blogging and tweeting communities, and critical visual thinking tools pioneered by Buzan, Rohde, and others, I think I might hit that goal and I feel calmer and more centered and more productive than I did in November 2011 when I retired. My focus is now more narrow and I am channeling my energy into talking about what what I have learned about the experience of dementia and how to use tools that might allow you to live well with dementia.
The most important thing I have learned since 2012 is that you can live well WITH dementia if you can force yourself to stop denying the dementia or fighting to be like you were before dementia and instead focus on the reality of dementia and how to live the most productive, joyful, and useful way possible during that stage of life. Life does not stop at dementia if you acknowledge it, change how you approach life a little, and then go ahead and enjoy all the good things available to you.
The methods I present in this blog are revolutionary and evolutionary. While many claim to have invented or otherwise codified the pretty pictures of mind mapping, none have developed systematic ways of presenting, communicating, and understand healthcare and medical information that can be productively used by patients, caregivers, and care providers of many types. Along the way, I have modified a number of the methods (especially by greatly extending, clarifying, and revising the work of Buzan and correcting many mistakes) based not only on my experiences as a psychologist with dementia who has studied literally hundreds of healthcare facilities over three decades, but also as one who has studied cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, especially in the past five years.
As usual, here is a mind map. Please click on the image to expand it.
And, THANK YOU.
The presentation contains a random assortment of images from the blog. These images are the best way I know to communicate knowledge in a way that is accessible to most.
In the old days (1960-2010), I could tell you roughly how many minutes had passed as I did things during the day. I had really effective internal alarms I could set that would get me to meetings on time. I really never needed to set an alarm clock for the morning although my obsessive-compulsive tendencies usually pushed me into setting three.
I loved the passage of seasons and months and years. I knew what had happened during different years.
Now … keeping track of the days has gotten difficult. Keeping track of time within a day has become a disaster. Most recently I feel like I am losing my sense of months and seasons; most recently I have started to ask myself whether it is early spring or fall when I go outside in the morning, April or September. I am amazed when a year or month or day has passed and have no internal sense of the passage of time.
I seem to have lost the sense of time in stages. The mind map below shows how it worked for me. I do not know if this is generally true for the typical person with dementia-neurodegenerative disease or if it something idiosyncratic to me.
Here are some of the roles and tasks I see for various groups when mind maps are used in medical and healthcare settings. This is intended to be a comprehensive set of individuals in a care network; it is highly probable that most patients/clients will not have all of these types of supports and partners in their care.
But these strategies work for somebody who has times when he finds it difficult to understand words and context, stay awake, or watches tv only late at night.
So I use strategies like these all of the time.
If you are a person with dementia or a caregiver, you might want to try some of these things. Remember that for the person with dementia, repetition and repeated experiences are a good thing that lowers anxiety and increases enjoyment.
In term of making noise at odd hours disturbing other members of the family, an iPad or tablet and a set of noise cancelling headphones can do wonders for everyone.